AUSTIN (KXAN) — The surviving victims of a deadly home explosion last October are suing Texas Gas Service.
The personal injury and wrongful death lawsuit represents David Passman and the family of Nicole Burton.
It alleges the utility failed to maintain a 42-year-old gas line near the home, leading to the explosion.
Passman survived the explosion, but was seriously injured. Burton, his girlfriend, died from her injuries four days later.
Both were inside their South Austin home when the explosion happened.
Passman now looks back at his life one year ago and knows he had it all.
“An average everyday person who had a job, a career, a girlfriend who I lived with for 6 years whom I loved,” said Passman.
Passman has burns on much of his body. He’s been homeless for the last six months and living at the Salvation Army Downtown.
“I have nothing now,” he said. “I don’t have anything.”
Slack Davis Sanger is representing David Passman in this case. FVF Law is representing Nicole Burton’s family.
Passman’s attorneys say the utility has a network of aging, corroded infrastructure that could be dangerous to local families.
“They have not taken adequate steps to identify and replace these problem areas,” said Mike Davis of Slack Davis Sanger. “What that’s done is created a hidden danger under our existing neighborhoods.”
Texas Gas Service has blamed a third-party excavation company for damaging its line at a neighbor’s property, contributing to a buildup of natural gas in the home.
On Tuesday, the company said an independent investigation found the explosion had nothing to do with age or lack of care with its infrastructure.
A spokesperson for the utility sent out a statement which reads in part:
“We take our responsibility for delivering natural gas to all our customers in a safe and reliable manner very seriously. We routinely monitor and maintain our natural gas distribution system using processes that meet or exceed requirements as defined at federal, state and local levels. Safety is our highest priority at Texas Gas Service.
We would like to remind everyone that if you do smell natural gas, leave the area immediately then call 911 and the Texas Gas Service Emergency Line at 1-800-959-5325. (This line is monitored 24/7). Do not use any electrical equipment such as phones, garage doors, light switches until you are a safe distance away from the odor.”