Damages Sought in|Fatal Propane Explosion

     MADISON, Wisc. (CN) – A propane tank explosion killed an elderly couple and burned their 9-year-old granddaughter, and the family blames the company that installed the tank, claiming it knew there was “a high degree of risk that the gas lines would malfunction and explode.”
     The Chidester family filed two federal lawsuits, both against lead defendant Camp Douglas Farmers Cooperative, which installed the tank at a summer cabin.
     The grandmother, Carolyn Chidester, was thrown into the basement, trapped and crushed by falling debris, then burned.
     Her husband, Dennis Chidester, was blown out of the cottage and burned on more than 90 percent of his body. He died at the hospital.
     The 9-year-old girl was blown out the front door and burned on more than 25 percent of her body. She survived.
     The Chidesters’ cabin was in Armenia, Wisc., a small town about 100 miles north of Madison. The family is from Illinois.
     Both lawsuits claim the co-op failed to adequately inspect and install the tank. One was filed by executors of the grandparents’ estates, the other by the parents of the little girl.
     The Chidesters claim the flexible brass conduit used to connect the dryer to the gas line in the home was not inspected properly. They claim that numerous public safety recommendations issued 15 years before the explosion warned that uncoated brass flex connectors are dangerous and should have been replaced.
     They also claim the co-op did not plug the gas lines on the old tank during removal.
     Both lawsuits demand punitive damages for negligence and violations of safety statutes under the National Fuel and Gas Code.
     The co-op’s insurer, Triangle Insurance Co., is also a defendant in both cases, as is Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois.
     The estate is represented by Christopher Norem with Parente & Norem in Chicago. The parents and little girl are represented by Sean Murray with Anesi Ozmon Rodin Novak & Kohen in Chicago.

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