Minnesota Plant Sued By Parents Over Hot Manhole Cover

December 27, 2013

A Georgia couple is suing Duluth’s steam plant after they say their 2-year-old son received second-degree burns from a hot manhole cover.

Megan and Troy Brown, from Canton, Ga., are seeking more than $50,000 from the Duluth Steam Cooperative, according to the Duluth News Tribune.

The family was visiting Duluth for a wedding on Aug. 26, 2011, when they stopped for a photo in front of the Aerial Lift Bridge, according to the lawsuit. The boy, Jacob, tripped and fell on the manhole cover, leaving him with second-degree burns above his ankle, according to the suit.

“Who would ever think that a manhole cover would be in excess of 140 degrees?” Eden Prairie attorney Donald Mark said Monday outside a St. Louis County courtroom after a pretrial conference. “Nobody who lives in this city or visits this city should have to worry about getting burned by a manhole cover.”

power_plantJacobs was treated at an emergency room and months later underwent medical care at a burn center in Georgia.

The suit, filed Feb. 4, claims negligence, alleging Duluth Steam failed to take the proper steps to prevent the “dangerous condition created by the superheated manhole cover.”

A trial date has been tentatively set for Jan. 7.

Steve Reyelts, who represents Duluth Steam, declined to comment, saying it would be inappropriate to discuss pending litigation. He has denied in court documents that Duluth Steam should be responsible for any damages.

The plant, which provides heating services to about 175 buildings, is operated by St. Paul-based Ever-Green Energy, which took over management last year from Duluth Steam, a cooperative that has since dissolved.

The city retains ownership of the utility, but pays Ever-Green just over $250,000 a year to operate the plant under a contract that runs through 2017.

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Latest Comments

  • December 30, 2013 at 12:34 pm
    Captain Planet says:
    Something tells me Jack, Sgt Major, and Agent saw this headline and were afraid to read the story.
  • December 27, 2013 at 6:50 pm
    Huh! says:
    If steam heated the manhole cover that much, just walking over the cover could have caused a burn. The heating system needs to be checked regularly and maintained on an ongoi... read more
  • December 27, 2013 at 3:50 pm
    Jon says:
    WTH were parents letting a 2 year old even near a manhole cover? Was the manhole cover mysteriously not in the street?
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