The family of an 11-year-old boy who died last week in historic freezing temperatures in Texas are suing two power companies, alleging they failed to take action that could have prevented his death.
Maria Pineda’s son Cristian died at the family’s mobile home in Conroe, Texas on Tuesday. A lawyer representing the family filed a $ 100 million wrongful death lawsuit against the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) and Entergy Corporation on Saturday.
The lawsuit, which was first reported by the Houston Chronicle, accuses electricity providers of gross negligence and alleges they “put profits before people’s well-being” by ignoring winterizing recommendations power grid and deceiving customers about the duration of power outages.
“Although they had been aware of the bad weather forecast for at least a week in advance and knew the system had not been prepared for over a decade, ERCOT and Entergy took no action. preventive that could have avoided the crisis and were totally unprepared to deal with the current crisis, ”says the lawsuit.
Entergy, which also supplies electricity to Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi, issued a statement in the United States TODAY saying, “We are deeply saddened by the loss of life in our community. We are unable to comment due to an ongoing dispute. “
ERCOT said in a statement to ABC News that it has yet to review the lawsuit. “Our hearts go out to all Texans who have suffered and are suffering because of the past week,” the ERCOT statement read.
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The Pineda family were among more than 4 million customers left without power as winter hit Texas last week. They lost electricity and heat for two days as temperatures dropped as low as 10 degrees in their area, the lawsuit says.
Cristian died trying to stay warm under a pile of blankets with his 3-year-old brother, according to the lawsuit. The family found him unresponsive and called 911 as he attempted CPR, according to the lawsuit.
The Pineda family believe Cristian died of hypothermia, but the cause of death and his autopsy results could take several weeks, the Houston Chronicle reported.
A GoFundMe set up to raise funds to return Cristian’s body to Honduras has raised more than $ 87,000. Cristian was born in Tela, Honduras, and immigrated to Texas in 2019 where he was reunited with his mother, Univision reported.
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The lawsuit argues that ERCOT led customers to believe the power outages would only be temporary, preventing them from properly preparing or leaving the area.
“Precise information could have saved the young life of Cristian Pineda”, indicates the trial.
The lawsuit notes that ERCOT ignored recommendations from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation.
The federal report, released in the summer of 2011 after a winter storm caused power outages, found state officials in 1989 – after another cold snap caused blackouts – ” issued a number of recommendations aimed at improving the wintering of generators “.
“These recommendations were not mandatory and, over time, their implementation failed,” said the August 2011 report of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation.
Winter storm blackouts also hit Texas in 2011:The recommendations made subsequently have not been implemented.
“Rather than investing in infrastructure to prepare for the known winter storms that would most certainly come and potentially leave vulnerable people without power, suppliers have instead chosen to put profits ahead of people’s well-being, and ERCOT allowed them to do so, ”said the mentioned trial.
Family attorney Tony Buzbee told ABC News he was representing seven families whose loved ones died during the cold snap and expects further lawsuits against the energy suppliers.
More than 70 deaths have been linked to the intense cold and damaging storms that swept through much of the country last week and about half of the reported deaths were in Texas.
“Cristian’s trial is the first and his trial should be the first,” Buzbee told ABC News. “This kid is going to change Texas and God bless him for that.”
Contributing:Asher Price and Bob Sechler, Austin American-Statesman
Follow N’dea Yancey-Bragg on Twitter: @NdeaYanceyBragg