Injured Dallas Firefighters File $100 Million Suit

Three Dallas firefighters who were severely injured in a natural gas explosion last September, have filed suit seeking $100 million in damages against four parties. Captain Christopher Gadomski, Engineer Ronald Hall, and Officer Pauline Perez suffered second and third degree burns as well as traumatic blast related injuries on September 29, 2021.

The explosion occurred at the Highland Hills Apartments following a gas leak caused by a stray bullet that was fired by a man during a domestic violence. The bullet incident struck a gas line, causing the leak. Hours later, firefighters responded to a reported carbon monoxide incident when the blast occurred.

According to NBC5, the firefighter’s lawsuit was filed in Dallas County District Court, accusing Mountain Creek Apartments, LP; Odin Properties; Odin Management; and Atmos Energy Corporation with negligence, premises liability, and gross negligence. Atmos Energy was the natural gas supplier.

A copy of the complaint is not available, but will be posted where when it is. According to the Southeast Texas Record:

After the Explosion, the Texas Railroad Commission (RRC) completed an investigation. RRC Investigators determined that Odin Properties and Mountain Creek Apts., L.P. operated an unregistered natural gas master meter system that failed to meet minimum federal and state standards, including:

  • Failing to draft and implement policies to ensure safe operation of Odin’s natural gas system, including timely leak detection; 
  • Failing to conduct a hazard analysis, including an analysis of the known risk of gun violence on the property and a resulting leak;
  • Failing to secure the Highland Hills complex to minimize the risk of trespassers and gun violence to people and property;
  • Failing to implement an emergency plan in the event of a leak, valve shut off procedures, and evacuation of buildings if an ultra-hazardous condition existed; 
  • Failing to employ qualified persons to address leaks within Odin’s system with knowledge of valve locations and emergency procedures; 
  • Failing to adequately inspect the natural gas system, conduct leak surveys, and perform preventative maintenance; and 
  • Failing to install overpressure equipment or excess flow valves to minimize active leaks and cut off gas supply automatically.

In addition to the unsafe condition of its gas system, Mountain Creek Apts, LP, and Odin Properties knew violent crime and gunfire was rampant on their properties. The City of Dallas designated Highland Hills and its sister property, Mountain Creek, as “common nuisances” because the owners and management failed to secure their property and minimize violent gun crime.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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