MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A man who says he was severely burned when a portable toilet exploded after he sat down and lit a cigarette is suing a general contractor and a coal company, accusing them of negligence.
John Jenkins, 53, and his wife, Ramona Jenkins, 35, of Brave, Pa., filed the suit Tuesday in county circuit court seeking $10 million in damages from Chisler Inc. (search) and Eastern Associated Coal Corp. (search)
The lawsuit claims Jenkins' face, neck, arms, torso and legs were severely burned last July after the cigarette ignited methane gas leaking from a pipe underneath the toilet unit.
"When I struck the lighter, the whole thing just detonated — the whole top blew off," said Jenkins, a methane power plant operator with North West Fuels Development Inc. (search) "I can't tell you if it blew me out the door or if I jumped out."
Eastern Associated owns the Blacksville property where the explosion occurred. Jenkins alleges that heavy equipment from Chisler Inc. ran over the pipelines before the explosion, causing the methane gas leak.
A call to the Charleston office of Peabody Energy (search), the parent company of Eastern Associated Coal, was not returned.
A man who answered the phone at Chisler's office in Fairview said the company would have no comment.