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Power Piping hits back in U.S. Steel lawsuit

Keywords: Tags  U.S. Steel, Power Piping, Clairton, explosion, coke battery, steel, Thorsten Schier

NEW YORK — Power Piping Co. has responded to a U.S. Steel Corp. lawsuit seeking to reclaim losses the steelmaker says it sustained following a 2010 explosion at its Clairton, Pa., coke plant.

The Pittsburgh-based steamfitter said in a filing in Allegheny County (Pa.) Court of Common Pleas that U.S. Steel must recoup any compensation that it paid six of its employees for injuries sustained in the explosion through the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, not through a suit against a third party.

The act is "the exclusive remedy by which an employer or his insurer may recover sums it paid in workmen’s compensation benefits to an injured employee," attorneys at Pittsburgh-based law firm Swartz Campbell LLC wrote on behalf of Power Piping.

Six U.S. Steel employees and five Power Piping workers were injured in the 2010 explosion, which occurred as Power Piping was performing repair and installation work at the coke battery.

Pittsburgh-based U.S. Steel spent about $6.97 million on repairs, workers’ compensation payments, and investigation and defense of alleged Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) violations (, Nov. 26). It also is facing claims "in the millions of dollars" from personal injury lawsuits brought against it by the five Power Piping workers, according to its initial complaint filed Nov. 16.

U.S. Steel argued that under a contract between the two companies, Power Piping is liable for the damages as the company failed to take adequate safety precautions and "failed to heed the warning and alarm system at the ‘B’ battery" prior to the explosion, according to the filing.

U.S. Steel declined to comment, while Power Piping did not return a request for comment.

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