This case involves a woman who suffered serious injuries due to an explosion linked to a corroded gas line under her property. In the weeks leading up to the explosion, the woman repeatedly noticed the smell of natural gas in her home and on the lawn outside, however despite complaints to the utility provider no detailed study of the problem was performed and the cause of the leak was never identified. Eventually, the leaking gas resulted in an explosion that completely destroyed the plaintiff’s house and seriously damaged that of her neighbor. An investigation into the explosion after the fact determined that the pipe running underneath the plaintiff’s house was more than 100 years old, and had suffered from extensive corrosion.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. Please briefly describe your familiarity with the above subject matter.
- 2. Are you able to discuss the "standard of care" for gas companies as it relates to the remediation of corroded gas lines?
Expert Witness Response E-057537
I have been involved in investigations and reviews of similar incidents. I have also been involved in policy development for the prevention of similar events at gas utilities. I am a past Chairperson of a major statewide utility provider safety organization, and I am very familiar with leaking gas distribution lines operated by public utilities. If the gas company owned the line they had an obligation to inspect, maintain and replace corroded lines. If it was owned by the homeowner (as is sometimes the case) the utility also had a responsibility to potentially inspect and warn of potentially corroded lines. Several factors are involved in making a liability determination and additional facts need to be considered: for example, was the leak actually at the street? Was the utility company involved prior to the incident (as seems to have been the case)? What were the inspection and maintenance requirements of the utility?