Lawsuits filed in connection with 2016 house explosion

Lawsuits filed in connection with 2016 house explosion

CARLINVILLE (May 16, 2018) – Six lawsuits have been filed in Macoupin County court in connection with the May 11, 2016, explosion of the house located at 430 North West Street, Carlinville.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuits, which were filed May 7, are Logan Tauchert and Melissa Watson, occupants of that home; Rebeka Hoots (individually and as mother and next friend of minor Danielle Hoots) and Jake Hanner, residents of other homes near the explosion site; Jeremy Hickman, owner of the exploded house; and Roger Goodman, owner of other nearby homes. Each lawsuit has the same three defendants: Ameren Illinois Company; USIC Locating Services, LLC; and Kinney Contractors, Inc.

According to the lawsuit, Kinney Contractors struck a natural gas service line at or near 419 North West Street at approximately 8:56 a.m. while performing a water main replacement project for the city of Carlinville. The location of the natural gas service line near 419 North West Street was marked by USIC Locating Services, LLC. After the line was struck, Ameren (who owned, installed and maintained the line) responded to the scene with a seven-person crew; Carlinville Fire Department also responded to the scene. At approximately 9:35 a.m., Ameren reportedly controlled the leak and released the fire department while Ameren employees continued repairs. The home at 430 North West Street exploded at approximately 10:46 a.m., completely destroying the residence and causing injuries to the occupants and neighbors, as well as damage to nearby properties.

The lawsuits allege that Ameren failed to follow state statutes and its own procedures in securing the scene of the gas leak; failed to properly secure the scene of the gas leak by, including but not limited to, failing to check neighborhood homes and sewer manholes for the presence of natural gas and/or mitigating natural gas; failing to evacuate residents from the affected area or otherwise safeguard such residents; improperly dismissing the fire department from the scene; and failing to properly mark, secure and repair the natural gas service line.

Against USIC, the lawsuits allege the company failed to properly mark the natural gas service line at 419 North West Street despite knowledge that other service lines had been mismarked on the water main project and mismarked the line by more than seven feet.

Finally, the suits allege Kinney Contractors struck the service line despite knowledge that other service lines had been mismarked on the project and failed to properly repair the service line.

According to the complaints, Tauchert, Watson, R. Hoots, D. Hoots and Hanner each sustained injuries as a result of the explosion, while property belonging to Watson, R. Hoots, D. Hoots, Hanner, Hickman and Goodman were damaged. Specifically, Tauchert reportedly suffered damage to his spleen, spine and head; burns to his feet, knees, hands and lungs; and post-traumatic stress disorder. Injuries to Watson, Hanner, R. Hoots and D. Hoots were not specified in the lawsuits.

Each plaintiff seeks an amount in excess of $50,000 from each defendant, plus costs of the suits. None of the defendants responded to requests for comment prior to press time.