The mother of 11-year-old Cristian Pineda, who died of hypothermia when the family lost electricity and heat in their mobile home during a historic cold snap, has filed a $100 million lawsuit against Texas power providers Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) and Entergy Corporation, accusing them of gross negligence in the death of her son.
The wrongful death lawsuit, filed in Jefferson County District Court, alleges the utility giants “put profits over the welfare of people” by ignoring previous recommendations to winterize its power grid, which sustained an epic failure last week and left more than 4 million customers without heat and electricity as temperatures in some parts of the state plunged to single digits.
“Despite having knowledge of the dire weather forecast for at least a week in advance, and the knowledge that the system was not prepared for more than a decade, ERCOT and Entergy failed to take any preemptory action that could have averted the crisis and were wholly unprepared to deal with the crisis at hand,” the lawsuit states, according to ABC News.
Cristian died on Tuesday in his family’s mobile home in the Houston suburb of Conroe while sharing a bed with his 3-year-old brother under a pile of blankets in an attempt to stay warm, according to the lawsuit.
The sixth-grader, who migrated to the United States two years ago with his family, was a healthy boy who on the day before his death was playing in the snow for the first time in his life, his mother, Maria Pineda, told the Houston Chronicle.
Ms.Pineda found her son unresponsive the next day and called 911 while attempting CPR, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit also noted that following a severe winter storm in 2011, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation issued a report informing ERCOT that “additional winterizing of the power infrastructure in Texas was necessary.”
A large number of units that tripped offline or could not start during the 2011 storm demonstrated that “the generators did not adequately anticipate the full impact of the extended cold weather and high winds,” according to the report cited in the lawsuit.
“Despite having knowledge of the dire weather forecast for at least a week in advance, and the knowledge that the system was not prepared for more than a decade, ERCOT and Entergy failed to take any preemptory action that could have averted the crisis and were wholly unprepared to deal with the crisis at hand,” according to the lawsuit.
Because the ERCOT system does not cross state lines, the agency is not subject to federal regulation or oversight, according to the lawsuit.
ERCOT which manages the electric grid for more than 25 million customers, said in a statement that it had not yet reviewed the lawsuit but “will respond accordingly once we do.”