Illustration, Photo: EPA-EFE / Ralph Lauer
The mother of 11-year-old Christian Pinheda has filed a lawsuit for injustice over her death in Jefferson County District Court, saying utility giants “profited on people’s well-being” ignoring previous recommendations for winter, which last saw epic failure of the week and more than 4 million customers left without heat and electricity as temperatures in some parts of the country fell below zero.
“Despite knowing the bad weather forecast for at least a week in advance and knowing that the system had not been serviced for more than a decade, ERCOT and Entergi have failed to take any preventive action that could have avoided the crisis and are completely unprepared to deal with the crisis that is in force, “the lawsuit states.
Christian died on Tuesday in the family’s mobile home in Houston, while he was sharing a bed with his three-year-old brother under a pile of blankets, trying to keep warm, the lawsuit claims.
“This is a young man who died for any reason other than bad corporate decisions,” Pineida family lawyer Tony Busby told ABC News on Sunday. “There are many decisions made a long time ago that led to the death of this young man. That is unacceptable.”
As of Sunday, more than 30 people have died in Texas in the past week due to severe weather, including many from carbon monoxide poisoning after people tried to warm up in cars or use generators to warm up during a massive power outage, they say government officials.
Busby said that he now represents seven families who lost their loved ones due to the storm, and said that more lawsuits will be filed against electric power companies.
“Christian’s lawsuit is the first and his lawsuit should be the first,” Busby said. “This kid is going to change Texas and God bless him for that.”
A sixth-grade student, who migrated to the United States with his family two years ago, was a healthy boy who played in the snow for the first time in his life the day before his death, his mother Maria Pinjeda told the media.
The next day, Marija Pinjeda found her son who did not react and called 911 while she was trying to KPR, according to the lawsuit.
Although the Pinjeda family claims that the child froze, the official cause of death is waiting for the results of the autopsy, according to the police.
ERCOT, which manages the electricity grid for more than 25 million customers, said in a statement that it has not yet considered the lawsuit, but that it will “respond accordingly once we do.”
“Our thoughts are with all Texans who are suffering and suffering because of the past week,” ERCOT said in a statement.
ERCOT officials said it triggered an emergency power outage on Feb. 15 after a snowstorm covered much of Texas and sent temperatures to levels below freezing. The agency said it had taken drastic measures to avoid a catastrophic energy shortage in the country.
“Since approximately 46% of privately owned energy sources were offline last Monday morning, we are confident that our network operators have made the right choice to avoid blackouts across the country,” ERCOT said in a statement.
But the lawsuit – filed by a lawyer on behalf of Maria Pinjeda and Christian Pinjeda’s estate – claims that the electricity was turned off for “those who were most sensitive to the cold”.
“From there, there were pictures of empty office buildings in downtown Houston with heating, but Pinjedin’s mobile home park was left without electricity,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit blamed ERCOT for deceiving customers by assuring them that the permanent blackouts would be temporary.
“The blackouts lasted for days instead. The failure to adequately inform prosecutors about the length of the blackout prevented them from properly preparing for the lack of energy or leaving the area. Accurate information could have saved Christian Pinjeda’s young life,” the lawsuit said.
The Pinade were without electricity and heat for two days, during which time temperatures dropped to only 10 degrees in their area, the lawsuit states.
Instead of informing customers, like Pinjedo, that the ongoing power outage will continue, ERCOT sent messages on social media to customers not to wash clothes on Valentine’s Day and to “fasten fancy new devices you bought during the pandemic and used only once.” according to the lawsuit, which included a picture of ERCOT’s post on social media for Valentine’s Day.
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