Man sues contractor for portable toilet explosion

Portable toilets often have enough surprises – their locations, conditions and particularly, their odors. But methane power plant operator John Jenkins’ seat on the pot last year might be worth $10 million.

Jenkins, 53, and his wife, Ramona, filed a $10 million lawsuit against general contractor Chisler Inc. and Eastern Associated Coal May 31. Jenkins claims heavy equipment belonging to Chisler ran over a pipeline, causing methane gas to leak at a site in Blacksville, West Virginia, last July.

When he sat down inside a portable restroom and lit a cigarette, the facility exploded, leaving him with severe burns on his face, neck, arms, torso and legs. According to, the lawsuit said he was permanently disfigured, and there was no sign on the portable toilet warning that smoking, matches and open flames were forbidden.

Jenkins told the Associated Press he couldn’t remember whether the blast blew him out of the door or if he jumped out.

“When I struck the lighter, the whole thing just detonated – the whole top blew off,” he said.

Eastern Associated Coal owns the Blacksville property where the explosion occurred.

A court date has not been set.