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Attorney Ed Robinson Obtains $1.8 Million Total Settlement in Natural Gas Explosion Case Following Appellate Victory

Attorney Ed Robinson, a partner at Cannon & Dunphy S.C., obtained a $1.8 million total recovery on behalf of a mother and her child who sustained significant burn injuries when their Milwaukee home exploded due to the underground migration of natural gas into their home from a broken gas main located under the street outside. Although the mother and her son were unaware of this danger, approximately 1 ½ hours earlier, the City of Milwaukee had received two separate telephone calls from residents in their neighborhood advising them of the strong odor of gas.

Through depositions and written discovery, Ed Robinson was able to establish that both the gas company and the Milwaukee Fire Department were aware from their training that natural gas escaping from a broken main creates an extremely dangerous situation due to the potential for underground migration of escaping gas into nearby homes, which could result in an imminent explosion. He also established that both the gas company and fire department were aware that, because of this danger, immediate evacuation of residents in the area was required.

Nevertheless, the firefighters who responded to the scene and who confirmed the break in the natural gas line failed to evacuate affected residents. Instead, after notifying the gas company of the leak, the fire department left the area and returned to quarters. Unfortunately, there was a significant delay before the arrival of gas company personnel to the scene, and, initially, only one gas company employee responded. Once the break in the main was identified by the gas company, rather than first evacuating residents from their homes as required by the gas company’s policies and procedures, the gas company instead attempted to shut off the flow of gas through the distribution line. The clients’ home exploded while the gas company was working to close the gas valves.

Through his efforts, Ed Robinson was able to secure a settlement with the gas company for $1.7 million. However, the City of Milwaukee denied his clients’ claims, and eventually moved for summary judgment on the grounds that it was immune from any liability because its decision to not evacuate residents involved the exercise of discretion. The circuit court agreed with the City, and dismissed the case.

Ed Robinson successfully appealed the circuit court’s dismissal of his clients’ claims against the City, and the Wisconsin Court of Appeals reversed the circuit court and reinstated his clients’ lawsuit against the City. Following remand back to the circuit court, the City ultimately agreed to pay $50,000 each to Cannon & Dunphy S.C.’s two clients, representing the maximum amount by law which a municipality is required to pay for injuries caused by the negligence of its employees.

Investigating and prosecuting fire and explosion cases can be quite complex. Not all attorneys have the specialized knowledge and experience required to successfully handle such cases.If you or a loved one has been injured in a fire or explosion, contact Cannon & Dunphy S.C. today. There is no substitute for experience. We have a proven track record of success in handling such cases.

Categories: Firm News