Exploding Toilet Wounds Man

The exploding toilet sent pieces flying into the air, injuring him.

ByABC News
October 10, 2013, 2:18 PM
Brooklyn resident Michel Pierre, pictured using a rope to flush his repaired toilet, Oct. 9, 2013.
Brooklyn resident Michel Pierre, pictured using a rope to flush his repaired toilet, Oct. 9, 2013.
Todd Maisel/New York Daily News

Oct. 10, 2013— -- Flushing the commode doesn't typically lead to shrapnel wounds.

But that's exactly what happened when one New York man pushed the handle on the toilet in his apartment, causing it to explode and pieces of the bowl to fly into the air and injure his head, arm and legs, according to his lawyer.

The Brooklyn resident, Michel Pierre, received 30 stitches after being transported to a nearby hospital, according to Sanford Rubenstein, a personal injury attorney representing Pierre.

"Toilet bowls are supposed to flush, not explode," Rubenstein told ABC News.

The water had been shut off for plumbing work on Oct. 2, the day of the explosion, according to Theresa Racht, general counsel for the co-op where Pierre lives, Caton Towers.

Pierre, a 58-year-old information technology specialist for a government agency, had flushed his toilet to find out whether the maintenance work was done, Rubenstein said. But that work appeared to have created a buildup of pressure in the pipe that serves the toilets, and that pressure caused four toilets in the building to burst, Racht told ABC News.

"Nobody had any expectation that something like this would have happened," Racht said. No toilet at Caton Towers had exploded before or has exploded since, she added. "People have been flushing toilets ever since then."

Rubenstein said he is preparing a lawsuit on Pierre's behalf that would charge the co-op board and building management with negligence.

"In my 40-year career, this is the first time I've ever represented a victim with injuries sustained from a toilet bowl," Rubenstein said.

Building and insurance engineers are investigating what happened, according to Racht and Mitchell Barry, the president of Century Property Management, in New York, which manages the building.

"There was no negligence on our part," Barry told ABC News.

Telephone numbers listed for Pierre were disconnected, and Rubenstein would not make his client available for comment.

"I'm afraid to flush the toilet right now," Pierre told the New York Daily News.