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 Tuesday at the family’s mobile home in Conroe, Texas. A lawyer representing the family filed a $ 100 million wrongful death lawsuit against the Electric Reliability Council of Texas and Entergy Corp on Saturday.
The lawsuit, which was first reported by the Houston Chronicle, accuses electricity providers of gross negligence and claims they are “putting profits before people’s well-being” by ignoring winterizing recommendations grid and deceiving customers about the duration of power outages.
“Although they were aware of the bad weather forecast for at least a week in advance and the system was not prepared for more than a decade, ERCOT and Entergy took no preventative action that would have were able to avoid 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. “
The Electric Reliability Council said in a statement that it has yet to review the lawsuits in their entirety. About 46% of private generation went offline on Monday and “we are confident that our network operators have made the right choice to avoid a statewide blackout.”
“It is a tragedy,” the statement read. “Our hearts go out to all Texans who have suffered and are suffering this past week.”
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The Pineda family was 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, according to the lawsuit.
Cristian died while 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 the Electric Reliability Council tricked customers into believing the power outages would only be temporary, preventing them from properly preparing or leaving the area.
“Precise information could have saved Cristian Pineda’s young life,” said the trial.
The lawsuit notes that the Electric Reliability Council ignored recommendations from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the North American Electric Reliability Corp.
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 North American Electric Reliability Corp.
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 lawyer Tony Buzbee told ABC News he was representing seven families whose loved ones died during the cold snap and expects more lawsuits to be brought 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, American statesman from Austin
Follow N’dea Yancey-Bragg on Twitter: @NdeaYanceyBragg