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Moorhead electrician sues after being burned by scalding water at Wahpeton sugar beet plant

FARGO - A Moorhead electrician who suffered severe burns while working on a hot water tank at a sugar beet processing plant in Wahpeton has filed a federal lawsuit against the Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative alleging negligence.

Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative field staff (from left) Salvador Gonzalez and Paul Beech take beet samples from a field near Fairmount, N.D., on Aug. 17. Photo taken Aug. 17 near Fairmount, N.D. (Forum News Service/Agweek/Mikkel Pates)(Embargo to Sept. 8, 2015, 1 a.m.)
A sign at the Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative in Wahpeton, N.D.

FARGO – A Moorhead electrician who suffered severe burns while working on a hot water tank at a sugar beet processing plant in Wahpeton has filed a federal lawsuit against the Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative alleging negligence.

Zachary White was an employee of Moorhead Electric when he received burns on up to 49 percent of his body, with third-degree burns on up to 29 percent of his body, court documents stated.

On Nov. 4, 2014, White and another electrician were working on the wiring of a hot water tank at the plant. They were on a scissor lift next to the tank, 15 to 20 feet above the floor, when pumps were remotely activated and the tank started overflowing, court documents stated.

The tank dumped "a continuing waterfall of scalding water" onto White and the other electrician, court documents stated. To escape the scalding water, the pair had to jump from the lift to the concrete floor below, a fall that injured them, court documents stated.

White's lawsuit, filed Friday, alleges that he was unaware the tank was in use and that Minn-Dak should have warned him. He also asserts that the tank should have been designed to keep hot water from escaping, court documents said.

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White is seeking more than $75,000 in damages to cover his physical and emotional pain, lost wages and medical expenses.

A phone message left for a Minn-Dak representative was not returned Monday. Court records did not list an attorney for the co-op.

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