Penn State student brings federal lawsuit over scalding hot shower

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A Penn State University student filed a lawsuit on Friday against his landlord after allegedly sustaining burns, scarring and psychological trauma thanks to a heinously hot shower.

The plaintiff, Jason Miller, of Novi, Mich. lived in an off-campus apartment complex called Twin Towers when the alleged incident happened, reports the Centre Daily Times. The complaint says the student suffered second- and third-degree burns after fainting in the searing shower. He says he now has skin that is his abnormally vulnerable to sunlight as well.

It’s unclear if the fainting had anything to do with the water temperature.

Miller seeks compensatory and punitive damages of more than $75,000 (a number likely chosen because it is the threshold for most cases to be heard in federal court). He is suing the owner of Twin Towers, Michael Falk of Falk Realty and Falk Realty Management Inc.

The filing alleges that the shower faucet in Miller’s unit had never been changed since 1969, when the apartment building was constructed. There was allegedly no anti-scalding device. The water temperature was allegedly set to 135 degrees, 15 degrees higher than the upper limit set by the International Plumbing Code.

Miller’s suit claims that Falk knew about these problems and did nothing to correct them.

At the website, recent reviews of Falk Realty and State Towers are mediocre overall.

“I lived at Twin Towers for two years,” said one satisfied renter. “Nice apartment, clean, quiet, and close to downtown. Maintenance was easy to come by and the staff was always very friendly.”

A much unhappier former Twin Towers tenant said: “The management staff was unfriendly and not helpful and when you actually needed the maintenance to fix something it took them weeks to fix it.”

Interestingly, a third former resident who wrote a long review carefully weighing the pros and cons of Twin Towers specifically mentioned the shower situation.

“Shower water temperature can fluctuate between antarctic chill and molten lava within 1/10th of a second,” explained the reviewer. “Sometimes shower water will be consistent for days. Other times, it seems like everyday the shower is on the fritz and you’re constantly on edge because you don’t know when you’re going to get severely burned by an instantaneous temperature shift. Once you get accustomed to it, it’s not so bad because you learn how to react quickly and appropriately, but can be stressful and jarring at first. Maintenance never could give us a straight answer why this happens, and they couldn’t fix it.”

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