Sulocsana Karki v Electric Reliability Council of Texas et al., case no. 2021CI06224, filed in the Harris County Court at Law.
Watts Guerra LLP, Fears Nachawati PLLC, and Parker Waichman LLP, three national law firms that have long fought to protect the rights of victims injured by the wrongdoing of large corporations, filed a wrongful taking of property and private nuisance lawsuit on March 22, 2021 against Electric Reliability Council of Texas, Inc. (“ERCOT”), CPS Energy, Calpine Corp., Luminant Generation Co., Vistra Corp., Duke Energy Corp., NRG Energy, Inc., Exelon Generation Co., LLC, Tenaska Gateway Partners, Ltd., and Tenaska, Inc, Inc.in District Court, Bexar County, Texas on behalf of Sulocsana Karki, an individual residing in McLennan County, Texas. Sulocsana Karki, the personal representative of the Estate of Decedent Pramod Bhattarai, is an individual residing in McLennan County, Texas. At the time of his death, Pramod Bhattarai was a 23-year-old student from Nepal, studying computer science at San Jacinto College and residing in Harris County, Texas. Mr. Bhattarai died in his home of carbon monoxide poisoning, a direct result of the power outage.
The lawsuit alleges that failures by ERCOT CPS Energy, Calpine Corp., Luminant Generation Co., Vistra Corp., Duke Energy Corp., NRG Energy, Inc., Exelon Generation Co., LLC, Tenaska Gateway Partners, Ltd., and Tenaska, Inc. to anticipate increased energy demand during the storm and weatherize and update their facilities resulted in the rolling blackouts which left millions of Texans, including Mr. Bhattarai, without power for days.
According to the Complaint, Mr. Bhattarai lost power in his home on February 14, 2021. As a result, his home had no heat. Freezing in the 16-degree temperature, Mr. Bhattarai attempted to use a charcoal grill to keep warm. Carbon monoxide filled his home, causing him to become ill. Paramedics arrived too late to save him. He passed away on February 15, 2021. The lawsuit seeks damages for Mr. Bhattarai’s physical pain and mental anguish before his death, punitive damages and more on behalf of her surviving heirs.
The lawsuit lays out a startling string of allegations. The action claims that ERCOT and the other companies involved in the management of power in Texas failed to anticipate increased energy demands and increase electric production capacity in Texas in advance of the February 2021 winter storm, though similar events have happened repeatedly in recent years. The Complaint also alleges that defendants should have weatherized and updated their generation, transmission, and distribution facilities in order to prevent cold-weather power failures such as this one, but consciously chose not to do so.
This cold weather event and its effects on the Texas energy grid were neither unprecedented, nor unexpected, nor unforeseen. Texas experienced disruptive cold weather events in 1983, 1989, 2003, 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2011. The events in 1989 and 2011, in particular, led to exactly the same type of rolling blackouts that have affected Texas residents and businesses. After the 2011 event, The Texas Public Utilities Commission and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission both concluded that corrective actions taken after the 1989 event were inadequate – but the Defendants ignored these conclusions and failed to remedy the problem. Foreseeably, in February 2021, after Defendants chose not to implement the reasonable economical remedies recommended in 1989 and 2011, power failed across Texas, resulting in enormous losses, including deaths.
Mikal Watts, founding partner of Watts Guerra LLP, is outraged: “Albert Einstein said, ‘the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.’ After their equipment froze in 1983, 1989 and 2011, it was insane for them to pretend that the inevitable would not happen again. What happened in February 2021 was not only foreseeable, it was foreseen; it was predicted; and it was inevitable.”
Majed Nachawati, founding partner of Fears Nachawati, PLLC, who has decades of experience representing victims of corporate misconduct, called the tragedy predictable, preventable, and unacceptable. “This family’s tragedy is compounded by the fact that it could have been prevented,” he said. “These companies failed across the board to respond to this predicted weather event.”
Jerrold S. Parker, founding partner of Parker Waichman LLP, who has battled for victims of corporate greed over many decades and in many courtrooms throughout the United States, said that the extent of the neglect by the Texas power companies is some of the most significant he has ever seen. “This tragic death of a young man who came to Texas to study might have been avoided if the energy industry had taken appropriate measures to fix visible flaws in its systems.”
Filing a Texas Power Outage Lawsuit
Watts Guerra, Fears Nachawati and Parker Waichman have represented clients in injury lawsuits for decades. If you or someone you know is interested in filing a Texas Power Outage lawsuit, please call 1-800-800-4499 or visit the firms’ Texas Power Outage website.
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