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Detroit — More than a dozen people joined a lawsuit Wednesday saying they were burned by manhole covers in downtown Detroit.

The 17 individuals, most of them from Metro Detroit, complained they suffered burns to their legs and feet from steam emitted from manhole covers in downtown Detroit. The amended complaint raises the number of plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which was originally filed in September, to 37.

Several of the plaintiffs say they were burned from manhole covers located near the TCF Center — formerly named Cobo Center — Ford Field and Comerica Park.

The alleged victims are suing Detroit Thermal, Detroit Renewable Energy, and Project Mist HoldCo, a New York-based company that purchased Detroit Renewable Energy, the parent company of Detroit Thermal, two years ago.

Efforts to reach Detroit Thermal were unsuccessful Wednesday.

Detroit Thermal provides heating and cooling to more than 100 buildings throughout Detroit's downtown district, two years ago.

The victims allege the companies failed to control steam emitted from "boiling" hot steam pipes beneath Detroit's streets and that the companies failed to warn people who walk downtown and others about the "dangerous conditions" that could lead to burns.

The lawsuit, filed by Southfield law firm Buckfire & Buckfire in Wayne County Circuit Court, also includes a complaint of a manhole cover burn dating back to 2012 outside Comerica Park. The lawsuit also includes a series of complaints of manhole cover burns this year.

"It's clear that this is an ongoing safety hazard, and it's our goal with this lawsuit to instigate  operational changes in Detroit so that pedestrians can safely walk the streets and sidewalks," said trial attorney Nicolas A. Vesprini of Buckfire & Buckfire in a statement released Wednesday.

bwilliams@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-202

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