Atmos Energy failed to respond to service calls and failed to fix a haphazard system of pipes surrounding the home of a 12-year-old girl killed in a gas explosion last month, according to a wrongful death lawsuit filed by her family Thursday in Dallas County.
Linda Michelle Rogers' family is seeking more than $1 million in damages for Atmos' gross negligence, according to the suit. Atmos declined to comment on the lawsuit but has blamed the soil composition and heavy rain around the Rogerses' Midway Hollow home for the explosion.
According to the Rogerses, the system of Atmos equipment surrounding their house amounted to a ticking bomb.
"The system is constructed through mismatched Frankensteinian array of pipes, couplings, fittings and valves," the suit says. "As built and as maintained, the system cannot be maintained in compliance with the minimum safety rules and regulations when operated in the manner it is operated by Atmos."
On Feb. 20, Maria Rogers smelled gas in the alley behind her home and called Atmos. Rather than sending someone out to inspect the situation or make repairs, the family says, the company was dismissive and refused to respond to the complaint.
Throughout the next day, gas continued to leak, eventually building up below ground because of the rain-saturated soil. The gas collected in the dry crawl space of a home across an alley from the Rogerses' house, eventually igniting and blowing up the home across the street at 3527 Durango Drive.
Atmos again failed to investigate its lines, according to the suit, leading to Linda Rogers' death two days later.
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During the early morning hours of Feb. 23, while Linda Rogers was preparing for her school cheerleading competition, according to the suit, gas began to accumulate in the crawl space of the Rogerses' home at 3534 Espanola Dive.
"As the gas collected," the Rogerses say in their suit, "it accumulated to an explosive level and found an ignition point. At that moment, the gas exploded and destroyed the residence. Each of the residents in the home at the time suffered tremendous conscious physical pain and anguish from the blunt force of the blast and the heat of the incinerating fire."
In the weeks following Linda Rogers' death, residents of the surrounding neighborhood have faced several precautionary evacuations, but no one else has been hurt. Officials ordered 25 homes evacuated Wednesday night, but those families were allowed to return to their homes Thursday afternoon.