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Okaloosa County Jury Awards $14.8 Million Verdict in Gas Explosion Case

Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Verdict

Emmanuel, Sheppard and Condon lawyers T. Shane Rowe and Warren R. Todd teamed up with Cunningham Bounds, LLC lawyers “Skip” Finkbohner and Robert Mitchell to try a personal injury gas explosion case in Okaloosa County Florida. The seven day jury trial resulted in a $14.8 million verdict on March 25, 2014.

As a result of the natural gas explosion, a father was burned on 98 percent of his body and ultimately died twenty-one days later. The mother was burned over one-third of her body, but managed to survive. The Defendants, Panhandle Plumbing, Inc. and Andrews Cooling and Heating, Inc. denied responsibility for the gas explosion, but the jury held them responsible.

At trial, evidence was presented that the Defendants did not follow gas safety codes or sufficiently train technicians. The gas lines in a furnace closet were not properly labeled and there was no safety shut-off valve in the family’s laundry room. These led to an open gas line where a gas dryer had been previously removed.

According to Warren Todd, redundant safety measures are required by the gas code to prevent this type of explosion and resulting personal injuries. Shane Rowe added, “It was good to see the jury find responsibility for a series of preventable mistakes. We hope this verdict will help bring some closure to the family”.

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