(Houston, TX) Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner Partner Benny Agosto, Jr., associate attorney Ben Agosto III, along with Co-Counsel Jacob Karam of The Karam Law Firm, have filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Dallas County, Texas against Atmos Energy Corporation and Bobcat Contracting, LLC on behalf of the surviving family of Deric Tarver. Deric Tarver was killed in a natural gas pipeline explosion while working at the Atmos Energy Facility in Farmersville, Texas on June 28, 2021. Mr. Tarver was an experienced Fesco Petroleum employee who was contracted by Atmos Energy to perform a routine maintenance on sections of pipeline at the Facility. Mr. Tarver was assigned to perform diagnostic maintenance on portions of pipe. To do this, Mr. Tarver used a “pig,” or “pipeline instrument gauge” to collect data on the inside of the pipeline. The operation is performed by placing the “pig” into a launcher “trap” at one end of the pipe segment, where it is launched down the pipeline to the receiver “trap.” An important aspect of this “trap” system is that they must be grounded to avoid the risk of a static discharge, particularly with natural gas pipelines. Both Atmos Energy, as the operator of the pipeline, and Bobcat, as the responsible party for the grounding, were each responsible for ensuring that the traps were properly grounded so that a discharge, and therefore an ignition, would not occur.
However, tragically, unknown to Mr. Tarver as he commenced his work, Bobcat failed to ground a least one of the traps, resulting in a static discharge. This discharge ignited residual product in the pipeline and triggered a massive explosion. The immense force and destruction killed Mr. Tarver and another employee and left two more severely injured.
Over the last two decades, in Texas alone, Atmos Energy has engaged in a pattern of unsafe, hazardous practices that have resulted in numerous state and federal fines, several explosions, and Texan deaths. Mr. Tarver’s death is just one of many in a string of ongoing explosions caused by Atmos Energy dating back to 2006. Recently, in February 2018, an Atmos Energy pipeline exploded in Northwest Dallas suburb, killing a twelve-year-old girl in her home. After an investigation of the incident, The National Transportation Board (“NTSB”) fined Atmos Energy $1.6 million after it found Atmos responsible for the incident, relying on evidence of Atmos’s inadequate management of its pipelines. Atmos’s inability to operate its pipelines safely has led to death and destruction that could have been avoided.
Mr. Tarver’s death was avoidable. He was a dearly beloved husband, father, and son and his family will miss him deeply. On Monday, June 19, 2021, a lawsuit was filed for $250,000,000.00 on behalf of Mr. Tarver’s widow, his two minor children, and his parents against Atmos Energy Corporation and Bobcat Contracting, LLC., for causing Mr. Tarver’s tragic death.