Company Sues University of Utah After Steam Pipe Injuries

August 12, 2011

A North Salt Lake business is suing the University of Utah for nearly $5 million in damages after 12 workers were burned, three critically injured, by steam during a building project beneath the campus.

Thermal West Industrial Inc. filed the lawsuit this week in 3rd District Court in Salt Lake City. The suit says more than 40,000 gallons of hot water was released Nov. 1 into a tunnel system through a water line that was designated inactive and abandoned, burning the workers with 400-degree steam.

The crew was working to install hot-water piping beneath the campus.

The university assured contractors that the line “was abandoned and inoperative and that there should be no concern about the open pipe,” according to the lawsuit.

The suit claims that an investigation by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration found the university was at fault. In April, the Utah Labor Commission cited the school for failing to cap the line.

Thermal West claims it has since lost customers because its safety rating was downgraded after the incident.

University officials had no immediate comment on Wednesday. They said the lawsuit was still being reviewed.

Thermal West seeks $4,505,000 in lost contract revenue and $325,000 in increased workmen’s compensation costs.

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