Texas Man Files Lawsuit Against Atmos Energy Corporation After Being Severely Burned in a Gas Leak Explosion

Russell McElyea is suing Atmos Energy Corporation after being severely burned when his friend’s home exploded due to a gas leak. On May 14, 2017, Mr. McElyea was visiting his friend Raul Pedroza at his home in Stephenville, Texas. Mr. Pedroza was preparing lunch when he lit his stove, causing the house to explode in a gaseous fireball. McElyea managed to grab Pedroza and drag him out the front door just before an additional explosion occurred in the home. McElyea suffered burns to his face and arms and even went into a coma shortly after the incident. Pedroza sustained serious burns to more than 70 percent of his body, eventually succumbing to his wounds. According to the lawsuit, Atmos failed to properly warn Pedroza and himself of the dangers associated with gas leaks.

McElyea says that he, nor Pedroza, ever smelled the rotten egg smell that is supposed to accompany the natural gas we use in our home. Federal law requires that an odorant, like that of rotten eggs, be injected into gas before it reaches a customer’s house. However, this system is not perfect. Scientists warn that this foul odor can fade before reaching a customer’s house. The smell can fade for many reasons such as the age, length, and composite of a pipeline, not enough odorant in the gas or the absorption of the gas by the pipeline or soil. When this odor is absent from gas, a leak may go undetected, filling a home with gas and combusting when a flame or spark ignites in the house. This is what McElyea asserts happened to him and his friend because the gas company failed to warn them that gas can be odorless.

The gas company, Atmos Energy Corporation, has a public awareness campaign featuring Rosie the Skunk. Rosie tells customers that if “they smell gas, then to act fast!” The problem with this McElyea says, is that gas does not always have a smell. McElyea hopes that his lawsuit exposes the “false sense of security” gas companies can provide and brings awareness to the dangers of leaking natural gas in one’s home.

If you have a loved one that has been wrongfully killed or seriously injured because of a gas explosion, call Abraham Watkins today. It is imperative that you find a law firm to manage your claim as soon as possible following an accident of this nature. Further, it is important to find a skilled law firm with experience handling these cases to ensure that companies are held fully accountable. The law firm of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner is the oldest personal injury firm in Texas, and our attorneys are standing by to assist with your claim. Call us today at (713) 222-7211 or 713-222-7211 for your free consultation.