Utility Blamed for Gas Line Explosion

PHILADELPHIA (CN) – A gas line explosion and fire that killed a woman and leveled homes in South Jersey came after Public Service Electric & Gas refused to cut off gas service to a development with a gas leak, two workers who were injured in the blast claim in court.
     The March 4 explosion in South Fork, N.J. “caused a massive explosion and fire, which leveled multiple homes and caused plaintiff’s catastrophic injuries,” lead plaintiff Martin Carrascosa claims in the Court of Common Pleas.
     Carrascosa and his wife, and his co-worker Robert Brothman and his sister sued Public Service Electric & Gas Co. on Tuesday, for negligence, personal injuries and loss of consortium.
     Carrascosa and Robert Brothman were sent that morning to check an underground electric line, they say in the complaint. They say their employer, nonparty Henkels & McCoy, contracted with PSE&G to do repair work.
     They claim that they called PSE&G to send someone to mark its underground gas and electric lines, and a PSE&G employee “improperly marked and identified” the gas line.
     As they drilled horizontally to replace the electric line, the men say, they smelled gas, and “suspected that the drill had hit PSE&G’s underground gas main, which was not located where the PSE&G’s above-ground markings indicated.”
     The men say they immediately stopped drilling and called their bosses and PSE&G, which “took control.”
     However, PSE&G never called 911 and did not shut off the gas, the men say. The accumulated natural gas exploded at 1 p.m.
     “Despite knowing the substantial risks of harm and understanding the likelihood of an explosion, PSE&G refused to turn off the gas service, or do anything else to stem the flow of gas from the ruptured line,” the men say in the lawsuit.
     Carrascosa was knocked out, suffered a concussion and other injuries, and Brothman suffered burns and a torn rotator cuff.
     They are represented by Robert Mongeluzzi, with Saltz, Mongeluzzi, Bendesky & Barrett.

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