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Date: 05-10-2016

Case Style: Angela Yetter and Mark Blakely v. Zrzo, Inc., Oneoke, Inc. d/b/a Oklahoma Natural Gas Company, American Telegraph and Telephone Company d/b/a AT&T, Inc.

Case Number: CJ-2014-1622

Judge: Lori Walkley

Court: District Court, Cleveland County, Oklahoma

Plaintiff's Attorney: Tim Hummel

Defendant's Attorney: Mike McAtee

Description: Oklahoma City, OK - Angela Yetter and Mark Blakely sued Zrzo, Inc., Oneoke, Inc. d/b/a Oklahoma Natural Gas Company, American Telegraph and Telephone Company d/b/a AT&T, Inc. on premises liability theories claiming:

1. That Plaintiffs were at all relevant times a resident of Cleveland County, State of Oklahoma

2. That Defendant Arzo Inc. (hereinafter, "Arzo"), is an Oklahoma Corporation and at all relevant times to this action was licensed to conduct business in the State of Oklahoma.

3. That Defendant ONEOKE, Inc. (d/b/a "Oklahoma Natural Gas" or "ONG"), is an
Oklahoma Corporation and at all relevant times to this action was licensed to conduct business in the State of Oklahoma.

4. That Defendant AT&T, INC. is a foreign corporation conducting business in the State of Oklahoma (herein "AT&T")

5. That on or about January 3, 2013, while installing fiber optic cable on behalf of AT&T, Arzo struck a two-inch gas service line on Plaintiff s property which resulted in a massive gas leak.

6. That at approximately 5:00 p.m., an explosion occurred causing damage to the Plaintiffs' home located at 9200 S. Villa Ave.

7. Defendant Arzo was negligent by, inter alia:

a) failing to hand dig and visualize the gas service line before excavating;

b) failing to use due care;

c) failing to appreciate the dangerousness of the gas leak;

d) failing to comply with the Oklahoma Underground Facilities Damage Prevention Act, 63 O.S. 1981 142.7, which states: Except as provided in subsection B of this section, powered or mechanized equipment shall not be used directly over marked routes of underground facilities until the precise location of the underground facilities has been determined by the excavator, and then only after the facilities have been exposed and properly protected to avoid damage to them;

e) failing to have adequate policies and procedures in place for its employees to follow when working in the vicinity of underground gas lines;

f) failing to properly train it's employees on proper protocol for digging near and around gas lines, and in failing to train it's employees on proper protocol after striking and/or damaging a gas line; and

g) failing to abide by the instructions set-forth in the JT1220 Operator's Manual when it failed to expose the gas lines by hand digging or soft excavation before commencing work near the gas lines.

h) failing to properly assess the gas leak by way of gas readings (combustible gas indicator or bar hole testing) so as to determine the dangerousness of the situation;

8. That Defendant ONG was negligent by, inter alia:

a) failing to discontinue the flow of gas to the gas line after it had notice of the leak;

b) failing to abide by Emergency Plans as set forth in 49 CFR 192.615;

c) failing to properly assess the gas leak by way of gas reading (combustible gas indicator or bar hole testing) so as to determine the hazardous nature of the leak;

d) Failing to abide by its own policies and procedure in assessing the potential hazard the gas leak posed to Plaintiff s and others in the neighborhood.

9. That Defendant AT&T, INC. was negligent in failing to ensure that Arzo possessed the qualifications necessary to perform directional drilling in a manner that was skillful, safe, and reliable prior to entering into a contract with it.

10. That Defendant AT&T, INC. was negligent in failing to ensure that Arzo had policies and procedures in place (such as an emergency plan) for its employee to follow in the event that they hit a gas line.

11. That as a result of Defendants' negligence, Plaintiffs sustained damage to their
home.

12. That in the ordinary course of events, natural gas does not escape from gas lines so as to cause an explosion like the one that occurred. At the time the gas line near Plaintiffs'
property was damaged, Arzo was the only company excavating or digging around it. The
instrumentality that damaged the gas line and caused the leak was under the direct control of Arzo. The accumulation of gas that occurred in and around Plaintiff s home immediately after the leak could not have occurred in the absence of negligence and therefore, Defendants are responsible for Plaintiff s damages under the doctrine ofres ipsa loquitur, in an amount in excess of $75,000.00.

13. That Arzo exhibited a reckless disregard for safety of the neighborhood when it failed to visualize the gas line (beginning and ending point) prior to using the horizontal drill on Plaintiff s property as required by the Oklahoma Underground Facilities Damage Prevention Act, 63 O.S. 1981 142.7, and as a result, Plaintiff s are entitled to punitive damages pursuant to Okla. Stat. tit. 23, 9.1 [23-9.1] (Supp. 1995), in an amount in excess of $10,000.00

14. That ONG exhibited reckless disregard for the safety of the neighborhood when it failed to follow its own written policies and procedures in assessing the potential hazard to property and people in that it failed to abide by CSFP Procedure 301, which required bar hole testing for purposes of determining whether or not gas migrated underground , in a sewer, or any other structure, and as a result, Plaintiff s are entitled to punitive damages pursuant to Okla. Stat. tit. 23, 9.1 [23-9.1] (Supp. 1995), in an amount in excess of $10,000.00

15. That AT&T, INC. exhibited a reckless disregard for the safety of the community when it failed to ensure that
Arzo possessed the qualifications necessary to perform directional drilling in a manner that was skillful, safe, and reliable prior to contracting with it, and as a result, Plaintiff is entitled to punitive damages pursuant to Okla. Stat. tit. 23, 9.1 [23-9.1] (Supp. 1995), in an amount in excess of $10,000.00

Outcome: Settled for an undisclosed sum and dismissed with prejudice.

Plaintiff's Experts:

Defendant's Experts:

Comments:



 
 
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