An Illinois man has filed suit against four corporations and a plant manager, alleging he was severely burned after a dust collection system he was standing near exploded.

Joshua Gillham claims he was working as a truck driver for Industrial Roller Company and was standing on the north parking lot of an Illinois manufacturing facility when the system, which was manufactured by AGET Manufacturing Company, exploded on Aug. 19.

"At the time of the rubber dust explosion, Plaintiff was standing adjacent to the dust collection system 'bag house' which erupted with flame and severely burned Plaintiff," the suit filed May 21 in St. Clair County Circuit Court states.

According to the complaint, the system exploded because of the accumulation of explosive rubber dust in the dust collection system.

In addition to his severe burns, Gillham lost wages and his ability to work, labor and enjoy life, the complaint says.

Before the Aug. 19 explosion, the dust collection system exploded, burned and required the response of four fire departments on Jan. 19, 2005, the complaint says.

Even though Industrial Roller Company knew the system was prone to explode and erupt into flame, it did nothing to change or improve it before the Aug. 19 incident, Gillham claims.

Plant manager Eric Alderfluegel also knew the dust collection system was deficient and could explode, but did not replace it or correct any of its deficiencies, the complaint says.

"Because of the complete indifference to the safety of plaintiff and others at the plant, the explosion was not accidental and was completely foreseeable at least by those specifically aware of its danger and was therefore not accidental," the suit states.

In addition to Industrial Roller Company, AGET Manufacturing and Alderfluegel, Westerheide Sheetmetal Company and H.C. Sharp Company are named as defendants.

In the five-count suit, Gillham is seeking compensatory damages of more than $450,000 and unspecified punitive damages, plus pre-judgment interest and other relief the court deems just.

He is represented by William K. Holland and Marsahll R. Hockel of Fox, Goldblatt and Singer in St. Louis.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 09-L-265.

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