San Bruno Explosion Was Tragic Result of Gas Company Indifference, According to California Attorney

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Ken Fitzgerald, Visalia attorney who has litigated numerous gas explosion cases, says that utility companies are all aware of dangerous "odor fade" problems and corrosion leaks but refuse to address it with necessary investments

I have a lot of experience representing victims of gas explosion accidents and my interactions have left me with complete disgust over the attitude of gas companies' corporate officers toward safety

The recent explosion in a San Bruno neighborhood, which this week prompted the first lawsuit from a San Bruno resident, was the inevitable result of indifference from officials at gas companies nationwide who are well aware of the serious risks posed by "odor fade" and corrosion leaks in natural gas pipelines, according to a Visalia attorney who has handled numerous similar cases.

The tragic accident in San Bruno occurred at about 6:15 p.m. on September 9th, when a 30-inch Pacific Gas and Electric Co. natural gas pipeline ruptured, creating a 30-foot-wide crater. The massive explosion triggered a fire that raced through a neighborhood of single-family homes, claiming four lives and destroying more than 30 houses.

According to Ken M. Fitzgerald, partner in the Visalia, Calif.-based law firm Fitzgerald, Lundberg & Romig, a special odorant has been required by law to be added to natural gas ever since a catastrophic explosion at a school in 1937 killed more than 300 children. Unfortunately, when natural gas leaks underground, the odorant can be eliminated by the soil, a phenomenon which is known as "odor fade" by industry insiders. The gas can eventually migrate into structures and cannot be detected by its occupants.

"I have a lot of experience representing victims of gas explosion accidents and my interactions have left me with complete disgust over the attitude of gas companies' corporate officers toward safety," said Fitzgerald, whose law firm has litigated a number of personal injury cases arising from gas explosions. "All gas companies have known about 'odor fade' and corrosion leaks for decades. However, they have never warned their customers about this extremely dangerous condition nor made the necessary investments to prevent these kinds of disasters from happening."

Among the most prominent gas explosion cases handled by Fitzgerald are Huitt v. Southern California Gas Co. et al (Tulare County, Case No. 07-222196) and Brown v. San Diego Gas & Electric Co. et al (San Diego County, Case No. 37-2008-00097086). The Huitt case resulted in a jury verdict of $12.3 million, which included $10 million in punitive damages against the defendant for despicable conduct.

From their offices in Visalia, Calif., the attorneys of Fitzgerald, Lundberg & Romig provide exceptional legal representation in personal injury, products liability, employment law, and a range of business transactional and litigation matters. In addition, the firm is one of premier law firms in the country handling gas explosion litigation, with particular expertise in odor fade injury cases. For more information, please call 559.733.3733 or go to http://www.flrlawoffice.com.

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