Deadly gas explosion in home leads to suit against Ameren

By Steve Gonzalez | Sep 27, 2005

An explosion in their Abington, Ill. house that killed an infant child and injured three others, prompted parents Todd and Christine O’Halleran to file a wrongful death suit in Madison County Circuit Court Sept. 27 against Ameren IP and TMI Home Warranty.

According to the complaint, Christine detected a gas odor in their residence on Oct. 11, 2003, and while investigating the odor, found a cap that had come off the natural gas line in the basement.

“While Christine was in the basement, the natural gas ignited, causing an immediate and violent explosion and fire that resulted in serious physical injuries to Todd and Christine, and their three minor children, Cody, Kailie, Kieanna, as well as the death of their infant child, Tanner,” the complaint states.

The O’Hallerans claim the blast blew Kieanna out of the basement and onto a neighbor’s roof, Cody and his infant brother, Tanner, who died, were found in the basement rubble. Kailie was rescued from the debris two hours later.

According to the complaint, TMI was the home warranty company that provided services and coverage to appliances, equipment, air conditioning, central heating, and all other receptacles and distributors of natural gas within the O'Halleran residence.

The O'Halleran's claim TMI failed to inspect the natural gas distribution system, failed to discover leaks, and failed to warn them that there were leaks in the natural gas system.

The suit claims that Ameren IP failed to follow applicable laws, codes and procedures in force, failed to maintain and test natural gas systems, failed to perform proper testing, and failed to conduct an effective continuing program to educate its customers and the public on the possible hazards associated with leaks and the importance of reporting gas odors to appropriate authorities.

The O'Hallerans are seeking "fair and reasonable" damages plus all
costs of the suit.

They are represented by Kevin Babb of Edwardsville, James Frickleton of Leawood Kan. and Tim Dollar of Kansas City.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Nicholas Byron.

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