ELLIS COUNTY -- A lawsuit has been filed against Atmos Energy by 20 Waxahachie homeowners after a natural gas explosion in September 2015 destroyed and damaged several homes and left many residents injured.
The explosion took place Sept. 21 in the Saddlebrook Estates subdivision. A press release Wednesday says the lawsuit is based on Atmos Energy's "alleged negligence," leading to the explosion.
The suit, filed in Ellis County, claims the company "failed to act on reports of a severed gas line" after gas service to the neighborhood was "disrupted for four days prior to the explosion."
The suit also claims Atmos "negligently located and installed excess flow valves during construction of the new residential subdivision. If properly located on the gas service line, the valve would have immediately shut off the leaking gas when the break occurred."
“Atmos personnel violated the company’s policies and procedures at multiple steps leading to this tragedy, but they seem content to try and shift responsibility to the other companies involved," the victims' attorney Tom Carse said.
One of the victims, Adele Chavez, suffered second and third-degree burns all over her body. Her home was demolished during the explosion, which took place when she turned on her electric stove to cook breakfast.
Her brother Jaime Rodriguez was also severely burned.
Experts discovered the explosion was caused by contractors, who were trying to install AT&T fiber optic cable lines when they hit the Atmos gas line. A resolution has since been reached between the victims, AT&T and its contractor, Circle L Construction.
Three other homes were deemed "total losses" and seven others were damaged significantly.