HOUSTON – A lawsuit accuses the Electric Reliability Council of Texas and Entergy, a utility company serving areas north of Harris County, of gross negligence after a boy in Conroe died during the subfreezing weather this week.
The law firm of Houston attorney Tony Buzbee is representing the Pineda family in the lawsuit over the death of 11-year-old Cristian Pineda.
Investigators have said they are still trying to determine how Cristian died. They said an autopsy has been completed, but they are awaiting the results of other tests before determining a cause of death. They said a carbon monoxide test in the home was negative.
However, the family said in the lawsuit they believe temperatures near 10 degrees at their mobile home on Tuesday night, which had lost power during the storm, led to the boy’s death.
According to court documents provided by Buzbee’s law firm, the family said they had huddled into a single room for the night in an effort to stay warm. Cristian’s mother and stepfather were with their baby boy, while Cristian shared a bed with his younger brother. Cristian was found unconscious the next morning. The family called 911 and performed CPR, but Cristian was already dead.
“Common sense tells you the weather played a part in his death,” Buzbee said. “His mother is very adamant, clear that he had no underlying conditions whatsoever that would make him particularly vulnerable to cold weather.”
In the lawsuit, the family accuses ERCOT and Entergy of failing to warn people of a hazard, providing inaccurate and incomplete advice and information to customers and participating in and contributing to acts that caused the incident in question, among other things.
“What’s interesting about this whole ordeal is what these power providers and ERCOT knew long before many of us knew it,” Buzbee said. “They knew they didn’t have the capacity, they knew they had not winterized their sources of power and they put people in a lot of danger.”
The family is seeking $100 million in damages.
Entergy released the following written statement about the lawsuit: “We are deeply saddened by the loss of life in our community. We are unable to comment due to pending litigation.”
Our sister station, KPRC 2, has also asked ERCOT for a statement regarding the lawsuit.