DALLAS, Aug. 31, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Attorneys for Adelmira Chavez, whose home in Waxahachie, Texas, was demolished by a natural gas explosion last year, have filed a lawsuit against Dallas-based Atmos Energy Corp. (NYSE: ATO) based on claims that the company failed to act on reports of a severed gas line after gas service in the Saddlebrook Estates neighborhood was disrupted for four days prior to the explosion.
More than 20 other Saddlebrook Estates residents who suffered physical injuries, emotional trauma or property damage are pressing claims against Atmos in the same lawsuit.
The lawsuit, filed in the 40th State District Court in Ellis County, also claims that Dallas-based Atmos negligently located and installed excess flow valves during construction of the new residential subdivision. If properly located on the gas service line, the valve would have immediately shut off the leaking gas when the break occurred.
Ms. Chavez was severely injured in the blast, suffering second- and third-degree burns on her face, arms, stomach, back and legs, as well as a broken arm. Her brother, Jaime Rodriguez, also suffered severe burns to his face and arms.
Expert reports and other documents filed in the case indicate that the explosion resulted from an Atmos gas line being cut by contractors who were working to install underground fiber optic cable for Dallas-based AT&T. Although no specific details are being provided, a resolution has been reached with AT&T and its contractor, Burleson, Texas-based Circle L Construction.
In addition to Ms. Chavez's home, three other homes that were in the path of the explosion are considered total losses, while seven others were significantly damaged.
"It is clear from the information we've uncovered that Atmos failed to comply with federal law governing the location of excess flow valves designed to protect against gas lines damaged by carless excavators by shutting off the gas flow before disaster strikes. Atmos provided no degree of oversight in an active construction area that company managers knew contained very real and potential problems," says Tom Carse of Dallas' Carse Law Firm, attorney for Ms. Chavez and the other plaintiffs living or working in the subdivision at the time of the incident. "Atmos personnel violated the company's policies and procedures at multiple steps leading to this tragedy, but they seem content to try and shift responsibility to the other companies involved."
The explosion occurred on the morning of September 21, 2015, when Ms. Chavez turned on her electric cooktop to prepare breakfast. She and her neighbors were completely unaware that the natural gas service line serving her neighbor's home across the street at 112 Arabian Road and a 4-inch sewer line serving the Chavez home at 113 Arabian Road had been breached more than four days before. Those breaches allowed heavily diffused, odorless natural gas to enter the Chavez home.
"Atmos has never warned its 3 million customers in more than 1,400 communities that deodorization can and will occur when escaped natural gas passes through soil, although there are low-cost and readily available devices that can detect leaking natural gas in any form," says Mr. Carse. "It's a miracle that Ms. Chavez and her brother survived this explosion."
Co-counsel for the Chavez family include attorneys Micah Dortch and Brent Cooper of Cooper & Scully P.C. in Dallas.
The case is Adelmira Chavez et al v. Atmos Energy Corporation et al, No. 92375, filed in the 40th State District Court in Ellis County.
The Carse Law firm is a Dallas-based legal practice with a focus on helping families seeking justice for the wrongful death of a loved one and for those injured in accidents of all types due to the negligence of others. For more information on the firm visit http://carselaw.com/
Contact: Barry Pound, 1-214-559-4630
SOURCE Carse Law Firm