Home Explosion Lawsuit Settled Over Leaking Natural Gas Main

A Texas family has reached a confidential settlement with Atmos Energy in a wrongful death lawsuit filed after a leak in the natural gas main caused their home to explode nearly two years ago, killing two family members and seriously injuring others.

The home explosion lawsuit was filed in June 2007 by David Pawlik, alleging that the utility company failed to inspect and maintain the natural gas line that was in front of their house.

On May 29, 2007, the family’s home in Cleburne, Texas, exploded about 45 minutes after they called the local fire department to report seeing blue flames shoot to the ceiling after one of the family members lit a cigarette.

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Although the Pawlik home did not have gas service, the Fire Marshall determined that a natural gas main had been leaking into wet soil in front of their home. The gas entered a sewer system and was drawn into the home by a line from the air conditioner.

While natural gas normally has an odor added to help individuals identify gas leaks, the Fire Marshall report indicated that the odorant was removed as the gas passed through the soil and sewer system.

The Cleburne Times Review reports that the gas explosion lawsuit was settled last week, days before the trial was scheduled to begin in the 413th District Court of Texas in Cleburne, which is south of Fort Worth.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), natural gas and propane gas home fires between 2000 and 2004 resulted in 66 deaths and over 400 injuries. On average, NFPA estimates that there are about 2,410 natural gas home fires and 1,390 propane gas fires every year.


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