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2 workers hurt in 2019 boiler blast at dorm sue UNR, contractor

Just days before the two-year anniversary of a July 2019 explosion of a boiler at a University of Nevada, Reno, dorm, two dining room workers who were injured in the damaging blast are suing the university and a firm that was repairing the equipment.

Sung Cho and Roman Deanda, both of whom were working for university contractor Chartwells in the dining room at the Argenta Hall dorm when the explosion occurred, filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the Nevada System of Higher Education’s Board of Regents on behalf of UNR, as well as Battle Born Boiler &Mechanical LLC.

The complaint filed in Washoe County District Court alleges negligence and seeks more than $15,000 in damages for Cho and Deanda. University officials said at the time that the explosion caused minor injuries to eight people, including six students.

“The explosions in this case are events which ordinarily would not occur in the absence of someone’s negligence,” the lawsuit alleges, referring to a small initial blast that triggered the Argenta Hall sprinkler system and a second, larger concussion that occurred after natural gas spread through the building and ignited.

The lawsuit doesn’t include details about the nature or severity of Cho and Deanda’s injuries.

Steven Klearman, an attorney for the plaintiffs, wasn’t available to comment by deadline Thursday. A representative with Battle Born Boiler &Mechanical said he wasn’t aware of the lawsuit and declined to comment.

UNR declined to comment, saying it had not had an opportunity to review the allegations.

A university spokesman said the lawsuit is the only one the school is aware of filed in connection with the Argenta Hall incident.

An investigation concluded the explosions on July 5, 2019, in Argenta Hall were caused by a boiler failure, which occurred while repair work was underway to replace a faulty servomotor. The bigger blast severely damaged Argenta Hall and adjacent Nye Hall and left them uninhabitable.

As a result, the university scrambled to house nearly 1,300 students elsewhere, including at at Sky Tower at the Circus Circus Reno resort for the first year. A smaller number of displaced students remaining are living in two leased private apartment complexes.

Nye Hall reopened in summer 2020. Reconstruction continues at Argenta Hall, with completion expected in fall 2022 — about a year later than originally expected.

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at jgreener@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2921. Follow @julieswootton on Twitter.

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