(Houston, TX) Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner Managing Partner Benny Agosto, Jr., and Associate Nurse Attorney Imrana Manzanares have filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Dallas County, Texas against Atmos Energy Corporation (“Atmos Energy”) on behalf of the surviving family of Melinda Gonzales. Ms. Gonzales was tragically injured when the home she was renting on Huntingdon Avenue exploded. She subsequently succumbed to her injuries and died. Ms. Gonzales had recently returned to Dallas from San Antonio to be near family, including several grandchildren.
It is believed that in the weeks prior to the explosion, Atmos Energy was installing new gas meters and performing maintenance and repairs on the surrounding gas lines along Huntingdon Avenue. Standard policies and procedures require that anytime a gas provider is working on or around gas lines, the gas provider enters the homes that are affected upon completion of the work and confirms that all gas valves are capped and/or not leaking. Failure to do the same can result in a leak and buildup of gas, which can ignite, explode, and cause serious injuries, including death. It is understood that Atmos Energy failed to protect Melinda Gonzales when they failed to cap and secure this foreseeable, deadly and dangerous condition as evidenced by the fact that three of the gas valves in the home were uncapped.
What happened to Melinda Gonzales is not an isolated incident. 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. In February of 2018, an Atmos Energy pipeline exploded in a Northwest Dallas suburb, killing a twelve-year-old girl in her home. After an investigation of the incident, The National Transportation Safety 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. Even more recently in June of 2021, a young father of two was killed while working at the Atmos Energy Facility when they failed to properly ground equipment to prevent a static discharge, which caused a subsequent ignition and explosion. Mere weeks later, a home in Plano exploded from what was a suspected gas leak (supplied and managed by Atmos Energy) leveling not only that home but damaging the two homes next door resulting in six people being seriously injured. Atmos’s inability to operate its pipelines and gas valves safely has led to death and destruction that could have been avoided.
“Yet again we see another catastrophic event due to Atmos Energy’s carelessness and negligence. The community is outraged, and, in this lawsuit, we are sending a message that this needs to stop. Ms. Gonzales’ death was avoidable. She was a dearly beloved mother and grandmother, and her family will miss her deeply.” said Ms. Gonzales’ attorney Benny Agosto Jr.
On Friday, August 27, 2021, a lawsuit was filed for $100,000,000.00 on behalf of Ms. Gonzales’ children against Atmos Energy for causing Ms. Gonzales’ tragic death.
Photo of Melinda Gonzales