Injured Worker Sues Sioux City And Companies Over Explosion

Liz Carey

Sioux City, IA ( – One of two men injured in a methane gas explosion at a Sioux City landfill has sued the city and three companies running the landfill for failing to monitor the combustible gas.

Douglas Mallette was working for Gill Hauling in December 2018 when a building on the Citizens Convenience Center landfill caught fire. When Sioux City Fire Rescue officials arrived on the scene, the building exploded, injuring Mallette and one other employee.

Sioux City Assistant Fire Chief Dan Cougill said at the time that the building, a white house, also serves as a collection point for household hazardous materials and may have had some build-up of methane in it.

Mallette said in his suit that the city was negligent in having the methane in building properly detected, monitored, or remediated, or failed to follow a consultant’s advice on how to do so.

Mallette’s suit also named Aerionics, Inc., doing business as Macurco Gas Detection, of Sioux Falls, which manufactured and sold the gas detection equipment inside the Center. The suit also names Metro Electric Inc., of Sioux City, the company responsible for installing methane monitoring equipment inside the building, and Barker Lemar and Associates, a West Des Moines engineering consulting firm contracted by the city to monitor the methane levels.

The now closed landfill is owned by the city, but run by Gill Hauling, which was not named in the suit.

According to the suit, the methane gas had built up inside the building that it ignited when a worker lit a hand-held lighter.

The suit alleges that Aerionics was negligent in the design and effectiveness of its monitors and that Metro Electric was negligent in the installation and testing of them. Barker Lemar was negligent, the suit said, in its monitoring of methane levels and testing the monitors to ensure they were getting accurate readings.

Sioux City-attorney James Daane filed the lawsuit on November 18, records indicate.

In response, on Dec. 3, attorney Doug Phillips, representing Barker Lemar, said Mallette’s own negligence was a cause of his injuries. Barker Lemar, Phillips said, had no control over whomever caused the explosion. Another attorney, Joseph Moser filed a workers’ compensation lien on Dec. 7. It’s not immediately clear who Moser represents.

Mallette and his wife, Sandra, are seeking an unspecified amount of damages for past and future medical expenses, physical and mental pain and suffering, disfigurement, lost wages and future earning capacity.

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