Flint, MI– A personal injury attorney has filed a $50 million lawsuit against Consumers Energy for an explosion that resulted in two deaths, multiple injuries, and dozens of damaged homes in Flint a couple of weeks ago.
The Flint Police Department is still investigating the cause of the explosion, but in a lawsuit filed Dec. 1, Attorney Geoffrey Fieger alleges that the explosion was caused by a natural gas leak, and “negligence” on the part of the energy company.
“It is outrageous that the Consumers Power Company had an opportunity to save two lives, over 20 homes and failed to do so. This is gross negligence,” Fieger stated in a press release.
Consumers Energy, however, says the claims in the lawsuit are “false,” and “baseless.”
On Nov. 22, around 9:30 p.m. there was an explosion in a house on the 3900 block of Hogarth Avenue. The house became engulfed in flames, and two houses on either side of the home burned down as well.
In the lawsuit, Fieger alleges that 55-year-old Lisa Rochowiak, who was killed in the explosion, had called the company earlier that day saying she had smelled gas. He states that before 10 a.m. on Nov. 22, Consumers went to Rochowiak’s home, located at 3906 Hogarth Ave, and assured her “that there was not a natural gas leak.”
Sara Bouchillon, the personal representative of Rochowiak’s estate, is suing Consumers Energy for one count of negligence, and one count of violating the Michigan Consumer Protection Act. The lawsuit states that the company, “knew and/or reasonably should have known of a potential gas leak due to prior complaints and visits to the home where no repair or maintenance occurred despite smelling gas.”
Consumers Energy denies that these complaints ever happened.
“Consumers Energy has reviewed internal call logs and vehicle tracking data, all of which confirms that we were not notified of a gas leak in the home or any related issue prior to the incident,” the company said in a statement. “Contrary statements in the lawsuit documents are false, and the legal claims are baseless.”
The lawsuit also alleges that the explosion and fires “were the result of the combustion of natural gas which leaked from a gas line owned, controlled, and maintained by” Consumers Energy near Rochowiak’s home.
But the energy company denies this too, stating that their investigation revealed the explosion was not the result of a gas leak.
“We have completed field evaluation of our equipment, facilities and service, working alongside law enforcement and other agencies. Our investigation shows there were no leaks or other issues relating to our natural gas system, equipment, or service outside the home,” Consumers Energy said in a statement.
The case has been assigned to Genesee County Circuit Court Judge Joseph Farah.