In one of the most bizarre stories to hit Florida headlines lately, a former elementary school librarian is suing the city of Tarpon Springs after she was injured by an exploding toilet. At age 69, Anne Burson was enjoying a routine day as a school librarian in late 2012 when a maintenance crew from the city showed up to work on the water lines. There had been pressure issues in recent weeks and the crew was investigating the cause. Burson said she was in the library when she heard a huge explosion. She went to look inside the women’s bathroom and she noticed that one of the toilets had exploded. The floor was littered with porcelain fragments. She alerted the maintenance workers who cleaned up the restroom and then came back to tell her it was safe for use.
Later that day, Burson went back to the bathroom to use one of the remaining toilets. After she flushed, this second toilet exploded. She was washing her hands when the explosion happened, sending a shard of porcelain into her leg. According to the lawsuit, she had a “severe contusion to her leg which has resulted in a dark, gouging scar.”
While exploding toilets are not too common, it’s not unheard of. In fact, the plumbing instructor at Pinellas Technical College, Gregory Patterson, said he has heard of porcelain toilet explosions, but only when there was a manufacturer issue or the water lines had been crossed. If hot water runs up into the toilet, it could trigger this type of accident. “Us plumbers sometimes make mistakes,” he said. “It has happened before.”
Burson’s lawsuit against the city states that no one from the city office notified the School board or school employees that a crew would be doing maintenance on the school water lines on the day of her injuries. She is claiming negligence on behalf of the city.
Jay Daigneault, an attorney that is representing the city of Tarpon Springs, said officials had not yet been told of the lawsuit. However, a city spokesman said the city would not make comments about active lawsuits. A spokesman for Pinellas schools said that Burson had never filed any complaints through the school district’s legal office. In fact, the legal team didn’t seem to even be familiar with the accident. Burson retired from her job as librarian in 2013, the year after the exploding toilet incident.
Tampa personal injury attorney, Christopher Ligori, said these types of accidents are uncommon, but can be devastating to those who are involved. “It was undoubtedly a horrible day for Mrs. Burson. Not only was she injured by the explosion, but she was probably also very frightened by the noise from not one, but two separate explosions in the bathroom near her work area in the library.”
The lawsuit is still pending at this time, but more information will be released once a settlement is reached or a court date is appointed for the case to be reviewed.