It was the failure of gas company to fix a dangerous pipeline system that led to the death of a 12-year-old girl in Texas, according to her family.
The relatives of Linda Rogers, who was just a young girl when she was killed in an explosion earlier this year, have filed a wrongful death claim that seeks over a million dollars in damages due to the alleged gross negligence of Atmos Energy. According to the filing, the gas company failed to maintain its gas lines as required by state and federal laws, and that led to the death of the young girl and injuries to neighbors and her family. In addition, the court filing states the pipeline system in the Dallas community of Midway Hollow, where the explosion occurred, is a patchwork of plastic, old cast iron pipe, plastic, coated steel and bare steel with sub-par components.
Although Atmos did identify leaks in the victim’s neighborhood as early as the first of the year and applied for permits from the city to make repairs that same month, the lawsuit alleges the repairs were never completed. Because of this, gas leaked constantly throughout the area, which led to a chain of explosions over the course of three days in houses that abutted the same alley. The victim’s mother also said she smelled gas and reported it to the company.
Atmos reportedly did not investigate or inspect lines after the first two explosions, which took place before the deadly third one that took Linda Rogers’ life. The documents filed by her family allege Atmos lied to the Texas Railroad Commission about the previous two incidents, which it blamed on “cooking activity.” The commission has since declined to comment on the case, as the lawsuit also alleges they failed to ensure the company was operating safely and in fact encouraged Atmos’ deadly behavior.
Last week, Atmos told news outlets that it responds to gas leak claims quickly and did make repairs in the Midway Hollow area before the explosion that killed the young girl. However, inspectors found more than 28 leaks in the days after Linda Rogers’ death, and on March 1, Atmos shut the gas system down in the neighborhood to begin replacement of the entire network. While Atmos stated that it did repair the alley lines that run behind the Atmos house at the end of January, it has yet to release any documents showing what was fixed and when the work was done. An emergency utility repair permit was issued by Dallas to the company on January 18, before a period of heavy rain started.
A consultant who was hired by Atmos said the damaged pipes stemmed from unique geology in the area, and the National Transportation Safety Board’s preliminary report states that federal investigators are still looking at how the three explosions are related.
When companies behave negligently, the consequences can be tragic for consumers. If you’ve lost a loved one due to negligence by a business or another person, contact a lawyer, like a wrongful death attorney Denver, CO needs, about your case.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from The Law Office of Richard J. Banta, P.C. for their insight into