Articles Posted in Explosion Cases

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Just in case you were wondering (and I’m sure you were), the photo on the left is what eleven years of litigation looks like.  I have blogged about this case before:  It took me eleven and a half years to finally get justice for nine Guatemalan and Mexican migrant farm workers who were injured in a big explosion in upstate New York.

The picture on the right was taken in a hotel in Guatemala where I brought the men to sign settlement papers and open bank accounts.

1236746_10201899072505171_1829587463_n.jpgI’m posting this blog from my hotel here in Guatemala City where I am hanging out with my two clients, Hugo and Lucio, shown in the photo with me. You guessed it, I’m the tall one.

I already blogged about why this Central NY injury lawyer had to come all the way to Guatemala to take their testimony. Today’s blog is about how much I admire these guys. Why? They are outstanding fathers.

Several years ago they realized the three dollars a day they were earning working the corn fields in their pueblo wasn’t ever going to fill the hungry little mouths at home. So they did something about it. They “went north”, as they call the trek to the United States around here.

beam me up.jpgNext Tuesday I’ll be jumping on a plane to Central America. But I won’t be on vacation. I’ll be representing my Guatemalan clients as they get deposed, remotely, by video, from Syracuse, NY. There’ll be an interpreter with us.

How did I end up in Guatemala on a case? That story made the front page of the New York Law Journal and the Syracuse Post Standard. I blogged about that here.

Technology has changed every aspect of law practice. A few decades ago, what is about to transpire would have been impossible. Your Central NY injury lawyer will be sitting next to his clients in Guatemala City while insurance defense lawyers in Syracuse New York ask them questions by video. We will see those lawyers on the screen, and they will see my clients. They will be face to face. It’s kind of like Star Trek. “Beam me up, Scotty”! The video of my clients will later be presented to the jury.

images.jpgThere is no true justice on this earth. Believe me, I’m in the justice business, so I know. And it’s not our fault. Our justice system, even the much decried personal injury law system, does the best it can. But it still falls short.

Take the Boston Marathon explosions. We don’t know who did it yet, but let’s assume they’re caught and end up in jail or on death row. Can they be forced to compensate their victims or their surviving family members for their life-long wage loss, medical expenses, pain and suffering, etc.? Hell no. I can almost guaranty it. Why not? Well, if the bad guys are homegrown (a la Timothy McVeigh), they will have shallow pockets. They are crackpots with nothing to lose. No big bank accounts to go after. On the other hand, if the terrorists turn out to be foreign operatives (a la Bin Ladin), they may have assets, but they will be hidden away in some remote spider hole half way around the world. You can never get to them.

That’s why it is unlikely that the victims will even bother suing them. Instead, if they choose to sue anyone at all for their personal injuries, it will probably be the local companies or officials who, through security lapses or other negligence, may have allowed the attacks to happen. I am not saying there were any security lapses — in fact there probably were not. This kind of attack is probably impossible to prevent. But if there were security lapses that allowed this to happen, then those responsible would be targets worth going after because they would likely have insurance or assets within reach.

house_fire.jpgA house violently exploded in Whitesboro, Oneida County today, killing an elderly woman, and strewing house debris in all directions. Neighbors say they smelled gas before the explosion. State officials, and the National Grid, are investigating the cause of the explosion.

From my experience representing victims of house explosions caused by gas, including a 2005 house explosion in Oswego County that injured 9 and killed one resident, this appears to be a typical gas-fueled explosion. Gas explosions in homes are typically violent, demolishing the home and strewing debris many feet in all directions.

From a liability perspective, the gas provider, or those who installed the gas-fueled appliances, or, if the house is rented, the landlord, may be held liable for the explosion and resulting injuries or death. It all depends on what went wrong. Did the resident receive proper warnings about the smell of gas, what it meant and what to do? Was the gas-odor properly added and mixed into the gas? Where did the leak start, and how? Were the gas-fueled appliances installed correctly?

fire.jpgThree are dead and several injured, including a baby, in this evening’s two-level house explosion in Salem, NY,

From my experience handling propane and gas injury cases, I can tell you this has all the hallmarks of a propane explosion: An extremely violent explosion completely demolishing the home, debris blown hundreds of feet out from the epicenter, insulation hanging from trees, shingles and other debris strewn everywhere, mattresses, too. Even cinder blocks are blown far from where walls once stood.

One of the survivors, a renter, said he had called his landlord about a propane leak earlier in the day. That probably means that he smelled the leak. If he did, he should not only have called his landlord, but he should also have gotten out of the house until the leak was fixed, and should have warned others to get out, too.

nuclear plant.jpgSo what rights would we New Yorkers have to compensation in the event of a New York Nuclear Power Plant Catastrophe?

Let’s assume that Oswego’s Nuclear Power Plant suddenly broke down and started spewing out dangerous radioactivity, just like in Japan. Let’s assume your family ended up sick, or dead, and that you had to move out of your home — forever — and that its market value was reduced to zero dollars. Can you sue the Power Plant owner? If so, for how much?

Well, I’ve got some bad news for you. Even though under New York common law principles you would be able to sue the power company for every penny of compensation you were entitled to for all those catastrophic losses, a not-well-known federal law trumps New York law, and would probably force you to accept pennies for every dollar you would otherwise be entitled to.

Thumbnail image for explosions.jpgI have been blogging lately about gas explosions. That’s because gas explosions keep happening! As I said in my last few blogs about this topic, our natural gas supply system, owned and maintained by private utility companies, is aging and not being properly maintained and replaced by those companies. As a result, we are seeing an increase, nationwide, in natural gas explosions. Just a few weeks ago a main gas line explosion rocked Philadelphia, killing at least one person and severely injuring others. And last fall, a main gas pipeline explosion in California destroyed 38 homes, injured 50 and killed eight people.

But gas explosions strike closer to home, too. This week a house exploded in Horseheads, NY. According to Elmira New York personal injury lawyer Jim Read, preliminary indications indicate the cause was a natural gas leak. Also according to Jim, the house is less than 1/2 mile from another house that exploded because of a natural gas leak in a NYSEG service pipe a few years ago.

Also, just this week, the parents of one of the victims (a 20-year old college student) of the Fall 2010 natural gas pipeline explosion in California filed a wrongful death lawsuit against an (ir)responsible utility company, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. Their daughter died from the horrific burns she received while trying to escape the blaze in her home caused by the explosion. In the lawsuit, her parents are claiming the defendant PG&E failed to properly inspect and maintain the pipeline.

explosions.jpgGas explosions have caused some of the worst injuries I have ever seen in my career as a Central New York personal injury lawyer. They are what I call a “double whammy” – they cause terrible crush injuries (because buildings collapse on the victims) and just as terrible burn injuries (because of the explosion and fire). As a Central New York gas explosion lawyer, I have been representing 9 clients whose home exploded when a propane gas leak filled it with gas. Human cost? One dead, one paralyzed from the waist down, one whose legs are crushed beyond belief, and left 7 others with serious burn and crush injuries.

So today when I read about the huge gas main explosion in Philadelphia that killed a utility worker and left three co-workers in critical condition, I felt connected to those poor workers. They will have the same kinds of injuries my clients have. And I also feel proud of them. The workers had responded to a report of gas odor, found the leak, and were attempting to repair it. They probably knew the danger, but stepped up and did their duty.

A TV news channel caught the explosion on film.

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