The Family of one of the victims of a tragic natural gas explosion in Collin County last month is suing, saying that the blast was caused by carelessness. According to court records, Melissa Tarver, Deric Tarver’s widow, filed the wrongful-death case in Dallas County on Friday. Atmos Energy and Bobcat Contracting are named defendants, demanding damages over $250 million.
On June 28, Tarver, 35, worked at an Atmos plant in Farmersville, about 15 miles east of McKinney, when an explosion killed him and another worker, Ethan Knight, 22. Two others were injured. Atmos had contracted Tarver’s employer, Fesco Petroleum, and Bobcat Contracting to utilize a pipeline inspection gauge — a “pig” — at the site to check on the condition of a section of the pipeline, according to the lawsuit.
The pig is placed in a trap at one end of the pipe piece and then driven to the opposite end. In this case, Tarver was standing near the pipeline, manually moving the pig with a pushrod. According to the lawsuit, Bobcat’s contractors failed to ground at least one of the traps, generating a static discharge that ignited residual gas in the pipeline, resulting in an explosion that ripped the fabric of a young, developing Family apart.
According to the lawsuit, Atmos and Bobcat failed to provide safe working conditions for Tarver by failing to properly maintain the pipeline and failing to instruct staff about industry standards, among other violations. According to the claim, this inaction amounts to gross negligence. Other natural-gas explosions involving Atmos, including a February 2018 incident in northwest Dallas that killed 12-year-old Linda “Michellita” Rogers, were mentioned in a written statement by the Tarver Family attorneys.