Can I Sue Atmos Energy?
Explosion lawyers at Pritzker Hageman law firm have paid close attention to the Atmos explosions in Dallas. Leaks in the same neighborhood caused three such explosions and injuries in the span of three days. Furthermore, the NTSB reported that Atmos had been aware of leaks in the neighborhood weeks before the houses exploded and burned. The tragedy led to a number of investigations.
Burn injury attorney Eric Hageman has investigated similar failures across the industry — all avoidable. Eric will tell you from experience that the script is similar from case to case: Pipelines leak explosive gas until a citizen discovers it or until the hazardous fuel explodes. Eric and his team of burn injury lawyers win explosion settlements for families and individuals.
In one case, Pritzker-Hageman obtained a $40 million settlement for a husband and wife after the husband was severely burned in a gas explosion that produced a tower of flames. The team also won a $10 million settlement for a client who suffered burns over 50 percent of his body when propane leaked from a tank, filling a house with gas.
Once again, Pritzker-Hageman made national headlines when it settled a lawsuit against Centerpoint Energy Corporation. The attorneys’ actions forced the company to take responsibility for the giant explosion that leveled Minnehaha Academy in Minneapolis in 2017, killing two school workers.
Gas Explosion Havoc
The Minneapolis and Dallas explosions — coupled with similar disasters in Silver Spring, Maryland, and the Merrimack Valley in New England — prompted a congressional hearing in 2019 on the industry’s safety failures. The Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials learned that from 1999 to 2018, the industry experienced 11,992 pipeline incidents which resulted in 317 deaths, 1,302 injuries, and more than $8.1 billion in damages. Incidents increased nearly twofold from 1999 to 2018.
“This shows that we still have much work to do to ensure the safety of our pipeline system, which must be our top priority,’’ Subcommittee Chairman Daniel Lipinski said.
The NTSB sent Jennifer Homendy to the hearing. She testified that the industry has been unreliable at detecting its own gas leaks. In fact, most gas pipeline ruptures and leaks are discovered by the public and emergency responders, she said. The NTSB keeps a Most Wanted List of safety improvements of all kinds and 32 items apply to gas pipelines, she said.
Homendy’s testimony included a statement on the federal investigation of the Atmos pipeline explosions in Dallas. She said: “In general, we are looking at pipeline operations, the adequacy of Atmos’s integrity management program, human performance, their safety management system if they had one, and the adequacy of emergency response.”
Hundred of Millions
Atmos Energy is a regulated distributor of natural gas, including pipeline ownership and underground storage in Texas and elsewhere. Besides the Dallas-Fort Worth area and West Texas, the company serves parts of Colorado, Kansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, Louisiana, and Mississippi. As one of the largest gas-only utilities in the U.S., Atmos provides natural gas fuel to 3 million customers in more than 1,400 communities.
Business has been good at Atmos for many years. According to the company’s own financial reports, 2019’s profit totaled $511 million. In the two previous years, combined profits equaled $1 billion.
But making hundreds of millions of dollars a year doesn’t mean the company operates without putting people at risk. It continues to be in the process of replacing its aging pipelines. Atmos said in its own recent financial report that loss of human life could be large if an adverse event happened in a population area.
“While Atmos Energy… is accelerating the replacement of aging pipeline infrastructure, operating issues such as leaks, accidents, equipment problems and incidents, including explosions and fire, could result in legal liability, repair, and remediation costs… regulatory fines and penalties,’’ the company said in its 2019 year-end report to shareholders.
Talk to an experienced burn injury lawyer
Pritzker Hageman is one of the few law firms in the country with experience representing burn victims and their families. If you or someone you love was burned in a fire or explosion, it is important to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible.
Contact Pritzker Hageman’s team of burn attorneys for a free consultation on what to expect from the legal process, how burn compensation is distributed, and other impacts of taking legal action.