Worker burned in explosion at Minneapolis industrial building files lawsuit

A lawsuit has been filed more than six months after an explosion at a Minneapolis industrial building. The blast injured two people last year. 

“We have a worker, a good Minnesotan doing his job, just like they did every day of the year – the next thing they know they’re on fire,” said Phil Sieff, personal injury attorney representing one of the victims.

Company video obtained by FOX 9 shows 50-year-old Robert Feist was literally on fire with flames shooting from his torso. His co-workers ran to get help.

“He has second and third degree, mostly third over 26 percent of his body,” said Sieff. “He has limited range of motion, he has some burns on his arm and hands an awful lot on his flank, uh, torso area some on his lower extremities.”

Metal Matic makes metal pipes. Sieff says Feist was doing his job, using a sprayer to coat a pipe, and as part of his job, he flipped a switch that turns on the dust collection system. In an instant, the dust particles exploded. He believes three companies are responsible, the first of which includes Thermach, the company that makes the sprayer Fiest was using.

“We believe that the sprayer played a role in the ignition source,” said Sieff.

Sieff also believes Northland Mechanical Contractors, the company responsible for maintenance on the dust collection system, and Process Engineering, the company that installed the system, should be held accountable. Sieff says a simple and commonly used safety feature, called an interruptor, was missing and never installed. He says Northland Mechanical and Process Engineering are to blame. 

“Surely they saw what equipment was being used,” said Sieff. “Surely they knew what was needed and why they didn’t do anything is kinda the question of the day.”

Feist is in occupational therapy, physical therapy and has undergone 16 procedures for his burns. He has a lifelong road to recovery.  All of it, Sieff says, could have been easily prevented.

“We can’t have our good people of Minnesota being caught in these explosions when the ways to prevent it are really very simple,” he said.

The three companies could not be reached for comment.