Natural gas is a source of energy so often used in our homes safely. Tragically however, natural gas can be the source of catastrophic and deadly explosions and fires. Such explosions can occur inside the home due to improper installation, uncapped lines, defective controls or valves, leaking hoses, gas lines, or tanks, or negligent maintenance.
If you or someone you love is injured or killed in a natural gas explosion or resulting fire, an investigation must be conducted in a prompt and careful manner. You must determine what caused the explosion and who is responsible. If someone you love was injured or killed in an explosion, contact our law firm NOW and request a free consultation. To ensure the right steps are taken, it is important to contact an experienced attorney right away. Petersen & Petersen has experience in preserving evidence and analyzing explosions.
In an explosion case, we work quickly and closely with a team of experienced engineers and fire investigators to determine the actual cause of the explosion and to preserve all necessary evidence. In doing so, we have successfully provided the foundation to proving failure to comply with safety rules. You can be assured that the Petersen legal team knows how to effectively handle deadly home explosion cases and will work diligently to leave no stone unturned in the course of litigation. We will do everything we can to uncover the entire story.
We look forward to putting our experience to work for you. Because they can be complex cases, it is important to select a gas explosion lawyer with a proven track record. The following is a recent result:
$17,000,000 Wrongful Death Settlement in Gas Explosion Trial
Attorneys Susan and Todd Petersen recently obtained a $17 million settlement for the death of an 87 year old man and his surviving 89 year old wife who were victims of a natural gas home explosion and fire on day five of trial.
At the time of the home explosion, the elderly couple was sitting at their kitchen table. With a giant “boom” and rush of air blowing out all the windows, the 89 year-old wife grabbed her husband to exit through the back kitchen door. As she passed by the basement steps, she could feel the heat coming up. She exited through the garage safely, only to realize that her 87 year-old husband did not. He had decided to exit through the front door, but was trapped inside. Within a minute, the entire house was engulfed in flames. First responders performed a search and rescue and found him in the bathtub still alive. He was taken to the hospital but died one hour after the explosion from smoke inhalation. He had second degree burns all over his body. He left behind his widow and four adult children.
Two and a half months before, the couple had purchased an electric dryer from a retailer. As part of the purchase price , they paid for removal and haul away of their existing gas dryer. Explosion investigators discovered that the gas line in the basement, which sat directly behind the new dryer had been left uncapped and the valve to the line was found partially open. Capping of unused gas lines is required by law in Ohio, not to mention being the most basic of appliance installation rules.
Through sworn depositions and via discovery of internal documents, the Petersens uncovered evidence that the retailer had cut expenses in its delivery systems, forcing delivery subcontractors to do more with less. The retailer knew quite well what this belt-tightening had led to, i.e. low-paying jobs that they had trouble filling with qualified candidates. Instead, they accepted the practice of taking who they can get and then not training them on the safety protocols and procedures, including those safety rules which relate to working with natural gas. The Petersen legal team uncovered evidence that indeed the delivery team at issue was untrained and unqualified. More egregious was the fact that they were not the only unqualified team being sent into the homes of trusting and unsuspecting customers. Publically available criminal dockets and internal company files showed a pattern of criminal after criminal wearing the retailer’s uniform and working deliveries.
The Petersen law firm investigation revealed that the retailer, in its contracts with delivery contractors/operators, required background checks – theoretically. However, they ultimately learned in terms of their clients’ delivery, the subcontractors let the delivery man start working before the results ever came back. Later, the results of his background check actually came back and they rejected him on paper, but still let him work. After the driver had already worked for months (including the job at issue), the company finally fired him. Amazingly, the company let him return several months later, under a fake name. At the time of trial, the delivery man was incarcerated on multiple unrelated criminal convictions.
Sworn deposition testimony taken by the Petersens revealed that when the retailer was considering hiring the subcontractor delivery company, it knew that this very same company had already used unqualified workers with severe criminal records in its other markets, but hired them anyway. The Petersen firm alleged that all of the entities in the chain of delivery were responsible for the tragic home explosion and resulting death and injuries to the widow and this entire family. The lawsuit included claims for negligent removal of the gas appliance, negligent hiring, training, supervision and retention, and punitive damages.