Family of Texas girl killed in explosion sue gas company
03 April 2018
The family of the girl who was killed in an explosion at her home in northwest Dallas in February has filed a $1 million wrongful death lawsuit against Atmos Energy, the utility supplying natural gas to the neighbourhood. The suit claims that gas leaks from the company’s pipeline network caused the explosion, and that Atmos knew the system was dangerous.
A preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board, released a month after the explosion, said natural gas leaks in the neighbourhood near Dallas Love Field airport were first detected on January 1.
Michellita Rogers, 12, was killed when her home exploded on February 23. Some of her family members were also hurt in the blast.
According to Fox News, the family’s lawyer described the gas supply system near the house as being a “mismatched Frankensteinian array" of pipes.
The suit claims Atmos acted with gross negligence because it failed to repair dangerous leaks to its pipeline system even though the utility company knew about the leaks in the neighborhood in January.
Rogers’ mother had called Atmos three days before the explosion to report smelling gas in the alleyway behind their home. The company is alleged not to have acted on this, or on two other gas-related fires in the neighbourhood.
Atmos originally blamed heavy rain and what it called unusual soil composition for damaging the gas lines. The company has not yet commented on the lawsuit.
A week after the blast, Atmos cut natural gas service to nearly 3,000 homes in the area, and replaced and repaired more than two miles of ageing pipeline.