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Boilermaker Burned when Water Heater Explodes

Boilermaker Burned when Water Heater Explodes

Still in pain; unable to return to his job; $5.63 million verdict

Published: 2:12 pm Thu, November 10, 2011
By Mass. Lawyers Weekly Staff

The plaintiff boilermaker was employed by a boiler/pressure vessel repair company that had been hired by the defendant, a condominium trust, to repair a leaking gasket on an industrial 1,200-gallon water heater.

The trustee and building manager brought the plaintiff to the boiler room, where the trustee pointed out the leaking gasket at the rear of the unit. The plaintiff claimed that the defendant’s personnel assured him that the unit was ready to be worked on, a claim that was denied by the defendant.

Shortly after the work began, the plaintiff heard a whistle followed by the sudden eruption of super-heated steam and hot water from the unit. He was thrown against the wall and burned over the majority of his body.

It was established at trial that the hot water heater had been serviced only by in-house workers, had undergone very little maintenance and had no updating of its gauges in the 41 years it was in use. Consequently, the gauges gave inaccurate safe temperature and pressure readings.

The plaintiff continues to experience severe neuropathic pain and constant numbness. He has been unable to return to his employment due to his anxiety in situations in which there is heat and steam and because of his physical sensitivity to hot and cold.

  • Action: Negligence & tort
  • Injuries alleged: Burns, severe pain
  • Case name: Gallotto v. Park View Condominium Trust
  • Court/case no.: Middlesex Superior Court, No. MICV2008-2502
  • Jury and/or judge: Jury/Bruce R. Henry
  • Amount: $5.63 million (with interest $7,790,772.00)
  • Date: April 4, 2011
  • Attorneys: Robert I. Feinberg and Matthew J. Venezia, Feinberg & Alban, Boston; John B. Johnson, Corrigan, Johnson & Tutor, Boston (for the plaintiff/trial); Michael C. Akashian, Landman & Akashian, Boston (for the plaintiff/workers’ compensation)
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