General Electric, ICR Engineering sued after electrician sustains severe burns

By The Madison County Record | Nov 10, 2014

A Missouri man is suing over claims he sustained severe burns due to a design defect in a General Electric product.

Michael Combs Sr. and Dorothy Combs filed a lawsuit Oct. 14 in Madison County Circuit Court against General Electric Company and ICR Engineering, citing negligence.

According to the complaint, Michael Combs was working as a maintenance electrician at United States Steel Corporation's Granite City steel mill Feb. 12, when he responded to an alarm and entered the power control room for a drive sold by General Electric and maintained by ICR Engineering. The lawsuit states that when the cabinet door to the drive was opened, an arc flash originated from the fuses, causing third degree burns to more than 30 percent of Combs' body, including his head, face, neck, chest, torso, arms and hands.

The complaint states that a U.S. Steel investigation determined that a failure in the drive caused an excessive heat condition causing the metallic coating of the resistor bank guard to flake off toward the fuses, causing a phase to phase arc flash. According to the complaint, the placement of the resistor bank and coated guard above the fuses was an inadequate and dangerous design. General Electric is accused of negligently designing the drive, and ICR Engineering is accused of negligently failing to warn U.S. Steel and its employees of the danger of the design.

Dorothy Combs is suing for loss consortium.

The Combses seek more than $50,000 in damages plus costs of suit. They are represented by attorney Matthew R. Chapman of Becker, Schroader and Chapman in Granite City.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 14-L-1396.

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