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$________ – CONTRACTOR NEGLIGENCE – NATURAL GAS Woman Sues after natural gas explosion kills one and mutilates another – Death of Michael R. Blanchard – Severe burns to plaintiff.

Circuit of Okaloosa County

In this matter, the plaintiff and decedent fell victim to a natural gas explosion at their Florida home. The suit against two contractors was resolved via jury verdict.

On the morning of November 19, ________, a natural gas explosion ignited in the Destin, Florida home of decedent Michael Bl. and plaintiff Faye Bo. The explosion came minutes after the plaintiff turned on the furnace, and began in the laundry room after an accumulation of gas ignited. Both parties were within feet of the resulting explosion. Michael Bl. sustained burns to over 98% of his body and perished from his injuries three weeks later. Faye Bo. suffered burn injuries to nearly 33% percent of her body, and remains permanently disfigured.

The plaintiff filed suit in the Circuit Court of Okaloosa County Florida for contractor liability, seeking damages for negligence from the defendants Panhandle Plumbing, Inc. and Andrews Cooling & Heating, Inc. The plaintiff sought damages for her own injury, as well as the loss of her husband and emotional injuries sustained by their three-year-old son who was also at home at the time of the explosion.

At trial, the plaintiff argued that the contractors violated gas safety codes, as well as failing to adequately train their technicians. Specifically, the plaintiffs showed that the explosion resulted after Panhandle Plumbing added a gas line in the laundry room that lacked a safety shut-off valve and was not properly labeled. After this installation, a new gas dryer was installed by the co-defendant, Andrews Cooling & Heating, Inc. That defendant was accused of failing to abide by safety code provisions and the manufacturer’s installation instructions respecting the installation of the appliance. When the original homeowners moved, their gas dryer was removed and eventually replaced with the plaintiff’s electric dryer. The plaintiff asserted that when Ms. Bo. turned on the furnace, natural gas escaped through an uncapped gas outlet into the laundry room, resulting in the gas accumulation, explosion and fire.The matter was resolved via jury verdict for $14.8 million in damages.

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