Lawsuit Claims Atmos's Gas Leak Caused Oak Cliff Family's House to Blow Up Last Month

HouseinAtmosSuit.jpg
A photo of the Mendez family's house after the explosion, provided by attorney Nick Wiseman
On the night of September 18, as heavy thunderstorms blew through Dallas, neighbors on West Woodin in Oak Cliff heard a "heavy, muffled boom," they told a CBS 11 crew. A small apartment behind a house -- little more than a converted, detached garage just a stone's throw from R.L. Thornton Freeway and Illinois -- had its wall blown out and was soon engulfed in flames.

Domingo Mendez, his wife and son fled from the home, all suffering severe burns. A spokesman for Dallas Fire and Rescue tells Unfair Park the apartment was struck by lightning that night, and that it started a fire. The fire, public information officer Jason Evans says, ignited the apartment's gas line.

Mendez's attorney, Domingo Garcia, says there was no lightning at the time, placing the blame instead on gas line couplings that came loose as the bone-dry soil absorbed its first significant rain in months. The gas escaped, he claims, by taking the path of least resistance -- into Mendez's home.

By the time firefighters snuffed the blaze, the place was gutted: Its corrugated tin roof collapsed, the appliances and bed frames warped in the heat, and everything else was reduced to ash.

His wife suffered third-degree burns and is still in the Parkland Hospital burn unit, Garcia says. She will need intensive medical care for the rest of her life.

Now Mendez is suing Atmos Energy for gross negligence. The complaint says "combustible natural gas was allowed to leak into his home which resulted in an explosion." Atmos, it claims, failed to inspect and "remove an unsafe gas line"; messages have been left for the gas company, which probably hasn't even seen the suit as it was filed only yesterday. Mendez is seeking unspecified damages.

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10 comments
Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Wow, Domingo Bandidto is taking the case, its about to get all racial up in this piece, expect whitey to get blamed for everything and them settling to avoid any bad press. While I feel for the folks affected by this tradegy and have my suspicions concerning if it was a lightning strike or shifting earth, I have to ask one question: Why were they living in a garage to begin with? Also, why does it take cases like this to bring to light the danger of old infrastructure?

Anne
Anne

What difference does it make if this was legal housing or what race the family was!  Old infrastucture used in the natural gas industry blows up homes and kills people on a continuing basis.

KIMFEIL
KIMFEIL

Atmos has the daunting task of replacing those old couplings and until then all the gas drilling thumper trucks, nearby construction thuds, and all the drilling and fracking and injection well activity makes these older homes more at risk...but we need the gas outta the ground and yesterday..at dumb low prices and unproven safe new technologies and little to no regulations...no wonder were all domed in teh Barnett Shale, we have upstream and downstream  issues with safety and greed rules with a mightly dollar...GREEN JOBS NOW!!!

Oakcliffooo
Oakcliffooo

You're right Anne, race has nothing to do with this.  But if this structure was built without proper permits and building inspections, how can Atmos Energy totally be at fault?  Yes, the red tape one has to go through in order to construct something on their own property is a pain and expensive, but it guaranties that the job is done properly and safely.  What if the above dwelling's power was supplied by a 100' extension cable run from the main house and an electric heater caused the building to burn down?  Would it then be Oncor's fault and the dwellers should sue the corporation?  So yes, Anne. It makes all the difference in the world if this dwelling was a legal residence, properly constructed.

Oakcliffooo
Oakcliffooo

So apparently Domingo Garcia Esq. is an expert on natural gas plumbing.  No wonder he was selected to lead the City of Dallas redistricting commission.  He's an expert on everything.

rubbercow
rubbercow

Oh my god!  Is there any injustice that is not inflicted upon Latinos to the exclusion of all other ethnicities!!?

Rixdanger
Rixdanger

Seems like it would be easy enought to confirm if there was a thunderstorm that night.

Brantley Hargrove
Brantley Hargrove

Nobody is disputing that there was a thunderstorm that night. What folks disagree on is whether there was lightning at the time of the explosion.

lorlee
lorlee

From your description, one wonders if this was a legal dwelling if it was a converted garage. 

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