Family of gas explosion victim sues Texas Gas Service


by JIM BERGAMO / KVUE News and Photojournalist MATT OLSEN

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Posted on March 7, 2012 at 10:02 PM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 7 at 11:21 PM

AUSTIN -- the family of a man killed when his house exploded two months ago filed a lawsuit Wednesday. 

Renald Ferrovecchio, 43, died Jan. 9 after a gas explosion at his home in the 1700 block of Payne Avenue.   His family on Wednesday filed suit against Oneok Inc.  and the Texas Gas Service Company.

Richard Mithoff, the attorney representing the Ferrovecchio family, said Wednesday that there are two reasons the lawsuit was filed:  to make sure the victim's 9-year old son is taken care of, and to get answers as to exactly what happened.

"Everything we have seen at this point indicates to us that, ye,  this death could have been prevented if adequate precautions had been taken," said Mithoff, who is based in Houston..

Mithoff says too many questions have been left unanswered to this point..

In its report, Texas Gas Service says a service line leak to Ferrovecchio's home reported on Nov. 25 of last year did not cause the explosion, but rather a break in the gas main that occurrred on the day of the fire.

Mithoff wants to know why there was a "delay between the time of first notification and first efforts to excavate?"

"What caused that shift at that time?" asked Mithoff.  "Why did it occur at this particular house where there had been a prior report of a leak?"

Mithoff also wonders what precautions, if any, were taken by Texas Gas Service during its excavation work prior to the explosion.

"Should Mr. Ferrovecchio and other residents been warned?" asked Mithoff.

"I do not know what might happen next," said Ethel Speir, who lives just two doors down from Ferrovechhios's home.  She has lived on Payne Avenue for nearly 50 years. She says she's not convinced the leak has been properly repaired. 

"I do not know," said Speir. "I am still leery. Every little noise I hear, I jump and look and that's not right.  I did not used to have to do that."

The Texas Railroad Commission is expected to release their report into the house explosion early next month.  Mithoff says he hopes to take the case to trial by the end of the year or early next year.