Texas' Power Grid Operators Sued for Ignoring Warnings About Grid, Electricity Infrastructure Weaknesses
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Texas' Power Grid Operators Sued for Ignoring Warnings About Grid, Electricity Infrastructure Weaknesses

Texas' Power Grid Operators Sued for Ignoring Warnings About Grid, Electricity Infrastructure Weaknesses

Texas' electricity grid manager ERCOT and electricity transmission company American Electric Power Company (AEP) consciously ignored repeated warnings about weaknesses in the state's power infrastructure and bear responsibility for property damage and business interruptions from recent catastrophic winter weather power outages, according to a lawsuit filed Friday.


The lawsuit filed by Dallas-based Fears Nachawati Law Firm charges that the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) and AEP each failed to maintain and winterize their infrastructure for the anticipated spike in energy use and failed to take corrective action once systems started to fail. The resulting widespread property damage from blackouts was caused by their negligence and gross negligence. In addition, the disruptions rendered private property unusable and amounted to an illegal "taking" of private property by the government.


The lawsuit charges that the storm was "neither unprecedented, nor unexpected, nor unforeseen." In fact, summertime power demands regularly reach 125,000 megawatts, eclipsing the 69,000 megawatts that caused the defendants' systems to fail. The emergency was caused solely by their failure to heed investigation findings from similar grid failures in 2011 and 1989, the lawsuit states.


"Texas had practically identical failures in 1989 and 2011 that resulted in exhaustive reports and recommendations," said Fears Nachawati trial lawyer Patrick Luff. "This was an emergency solely because of a failure to plan and learn previous lessons."


A 357-page federal report following the 2011 storm that occurred while North Texas was hosting the Super Bowl spelled out steps to prevent future failures, such as installing heating elements around pipes and increasing reserve power available before storms. That report specifically noted that similar recommendations following the 1989 storm had not been heeded.


The lawsuit is Donald McCarley v Electric Reliability Council of Texas et al., case no. 2021CCV-60188-1, filed in the Nueces County Court at Law. In addition to Fears Nachawati, the plaintiff is represented by Watts Guerra LLP.


Dallas-based Fears Nachawati Law Firm represents individuals, businesses, and governmental entities in litigation, including sex abuse and sexual assault claims, business interruption claims arising from Coronavirus (COVID-19) and other natural disasters, serious personal injury and wrongful death, and mass torts arising from environmental damage and water contamination, as well as defective drug and medical device litigation. 


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