$1 million lawsuit filed against Austin Energy, ERCOT for winter storm death

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FILE PHOTO – Icicles hang off the State Highway 195 sign on February 18, 2021 in Killeen, Texas. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The daughter of a woman who died during February’s winter storms is suing Austin’s power company and the state’s electric grid administrator.

Colinda Meza filed a lawsuit against Austin Energy and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas that says her mother, Connie Mae Richey, died from “a frozen urinary catheter that resulted from the sustained power outages” in Austin during the 2021 storm that dropped temperatures into single digits throughout Texas.

The lawsuit also says when the power went out Feb. 15, Austin Energy said the outages would last “no more than 40 minutes at a time.” The outages didn’t rotate, and Meza’s home was without power for four days, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit is asking for $1 million for “gross negligence and wrongful death for exemplary damages.”

KXAN has asked the City of Austin and ERCOT for comments on the lawsuit. A representative from ERCOT said it is unable to comment on pending litigation.

A spokesperson with the City of Austin said, “We haven’t yet received the lawsuit, but once we do we will evaluate it and look for next steps that are appropriate for the city.”

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