Lawsuit Filed Over Fort Meyers Gas Line Explosion

A class action lawsuit against TECO Peoples Gas and Posen Construction is currently pending in Lee County Circuit Court on behalf of businesses that lost revenue after a high pressure gas line exploded in Fort Meyers last November. The explosion occurred after construction crews working on widening Colonial Boulevard severed a purportedly unmarked eight inch TECO gas line. The accident thousands of residential and commercial customers in Lee and Collier counties without natural gas services and sent a 26-year-old construction worker to the hospital in critical condition with burns on more than half of his body.

According to Lee County Transportation Director, Paul Wingard, an inspection conducted after the accident revealed bright yellow markers designed to warn construction workers a gas line is present were missing at the time of the explosion. He also stated natural gas company TECO recently relocated the gas line approximately 15 feet to the south in preparation for the road expansion. Wingard said once the line was moved, it was up to the road contractor, Posen Construction, to maintain the natural gas line markers. Michigan based Posen Construction has refused to comment on the explosion.

The accident occurred after an employee for the construction contractor inadvertently hit the buried gas line with a piece of heavy machinery. The gas line explosion was not the first accident at this particular construction site. Last June, a crane boom fell and pinned a Posen construction employee’s arms and legs. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration is currently investigating whether Posen Construction violated any federal safety standards.

According to the lawsuit, the gas outage had a tremendous financial effect upon restaurants and other tourism based businesses such as hotels in Lee and Collier counties. Plaintiffs in the suit are seeking damages for lost income which purportedly resulted from the natural gas outage as well as expenses related to business attempts to compensate for the lack of available gas. The plaintiffs charge that the outage occurred just as the tourist season was picking up, and that it affected many businesses still struggling to recover from heavy financial losses associated with the BP Horizon oil spill.

Construction sites can be dangerous. Thousands of construction workers are injured on the job each year in Florida. A worker may be hurt in a fall, burned in an explosion, or harmed as a result of defective machinery or tools. Common wounds include broken bones, burns, back injuries, brain injuries, and tragically, even wrongful death. Injuries can be difficult to treat and a worker may become permanently disabled as a result of a construction accident.

In most cases, Florida workers’ compensation laws will provide the exclusive remedy for employees injured while working at a construction site. Important exceptions do exist, however. A qualified construction accident attorney can explain your rights and help you receive damages for your injuries.

At Lazarus & Lazarus, P.A., our experienced Fort Lauderdale construction accident lawyers understand the uncertainty that can accompany a workplace injury. Our knowledgeable personal injury attorneys are available to assist you in obtaining the compensation you deserve. The law firm of Lazarus & Lazarus represents clients throughout Florida including Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Weston, Dade County, Palm Beach County, and Broward County. To schedule your free initial consultation, call Lazarus & Lazarus today at (954) 356-0006 or contact the firm through our website.

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Passenger Injured in Cruise Ship Accident, Florida Personal Injury Attorney Blog, July 7, 2011
Boating Safety Tips to Enjoy the 4th of July Weekend, Florida Personal Injury Attorney Blog, July 1, 2011
Additional Resources:

Worker still critical, lawsuit in progress a month after TECO gas explosion, by Elysa Delcorto,

Fort Myers gas line explosion: TECO, contractor face questions, by Brian Liberatore,