PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 5, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- The wife of the utility worker who was killed in a massive 2017 home explosion in Millersville, Pa., today filed a major wrongful death lawsuit against Honeywell International, Inc. and other defendants for causing the deadly blast.
The lawsuit, filed by Ross Feller Casey, LLP, on behalf of Richard Bouder's widow, Kim Bouder, advances claims for product liability relating to Honeywell's Permalock mechanical tapping tee that connected the natural gas line to the Lancaster County home.
The suit alleges that the tapping tee was defectively designed by Honeywell and that it was sold to consumers without sufficient warnings or instructions for installation. The lawsuit asserts that the defects rendered the tapping tee unreasonably dangerous and unsafe because it was overly prone to becoming unsecured from the main gas line which, in turn, led to the severe and explosive gas leak.
According to the lawsuit, the catastrophic blast occurred due to these defects as the tapping tee leaked explosive levels of gas that ignited, destroying the Millersville home and killing Bouder, 54. The lawsuit also alleges that Honeywell was aware of the defects with the tapping tee that were responsible for at least two prior explosions from gas leaks, including one involving a fatality.
The fatal explosion has been the subject of an ongoing investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). In June, the NTSB issued a Safety Recommendation Report that attributed the gas leak to deficiencies with Honeywell's installation instructions as well as fractures in the nylon bolts of the tapping tee. The NTSB made specific recommendations to Honeywell to update the tapping tee's assembly instructions with more detailed information to ensure correct installation and prevent gas leaks.
Ross Feller Casey founding partner Matt Casey and attorney John Pinto are representing Kim Bouder.
"We will prove that Honeywell knew that the tapping tee was defective, both in its design and instructions, and that Honeywell was aware of the tendencies for the product to cause a catastrophic and fatal explosion from a natural gas leak," Casey said. "This product should never have made its way to the market, and Honeywell failed to take sufficient actions to remedy the defects. Kim Bouder's husband went to work that day and never came home."
According to the lawsuit filed in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, the tapping tee was defective and hazardous because, among other things, it "utilized nylon bolts as its connection that were deficient in strength and overly susceptible to failure, fatigue and fracture with normal and expected usage." Additionally, instructions provided by Honeywell never specified what torque levels or specific tools to use for the safe installation of the tapping tee, which left installers without critical information to properly secure the tapping tee to a main gas line. The suit claims that tests performed on the tapping tee after the explosion showed that the nylon bolts were fractured and the tapping tee had not been properly secured to the gas line during installation, resulting in the severe gas leak that caused the explosion.
The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages against Honeywell relating to Bouder's death.
PPL Corporation and PPL Electric Utilities Corporation as well as the company that installed the tapping tee, Contractors Group, Inc., are also named as defendants.
The lawsuit alleges that Contractors Group, Inc., of Wilkes-Barre, failed to properly install the tapping tee.
The power was not shut off to the house and the neighborhood until after the explosion. PPL was negligent, the lawsuit says, for failing to ensure that a proper policy was in place for expeditiously shutting off electricity during a known, significant gas leak with explosive levels.
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SOURCE Ross Feller Casey