The single mother of an 11-year-old boy who died in a prolonged power outage at their home in Texas amid a freezing winter storm is suing the companies responsible for the flow of energy through the power grid. State for $ 100 million in damages.
Cristian Pineda, 11, was found unanswered in bed on Tuesday after spending the night with his 3-year-old brother in an attempt to stay warm, according to the Maria Pineda trial. Cristian’s mother called 911 after realizing he was not answering and had attempted CPR, but was unable to revive the young boy, the lawsuit said.
Now Maria Pineda is suing the Electric Reliability Council of Texas and Entergy, alleging gross negligence led to the boy’s death and Cristian died because their “energy supplier made decisions based on profits” .
“This young boy saw snow for the first time on Monday, and died on Tuesday,” Tony Buzbee, the lawyer representing Cristian’s mother, told NBC News on Monday.
An autopsy is still in progress, according to the Conroe Police Department, about 40 miles north of Houston. Results could take 60 to 90 days, police said.
Cristian showed no signs of medical distress and had no underlying issues prior to his death, Buzbee said, describing him as a healthy and active preteen. Dozens of people have died across the country from the winter storm, including at least 22 in Texas on Saturday.
Although the Pineda family, like many other Texans, had a roof over their heads, their situation was comparable to being homeless during the storm, Buzbee said.
“Misinformation is probably what drives the craziest people, and certainly makes me very angry, because we’ve been lied to about, you know, we’re going to have power outages,” Buzbee said. “This is not at all what happened. It was a total blackout, with no end in sight.
The complaint filed on Saturday alleges that ERCOT and Entergy told consumers of the power outages, or temporary, but failed to warn that there could be longer outages that would last for days. Without warning, consumers were not prepared to face several days without power, according to the lawsuit.
He also alleges that Entergy “chose to cut power to those who were most vulnerable to the cold” because she did not prioritize areas where residents were more vulnerable to the cold when faced to an energy shortage.
“Power cuts during blackouts have occurred at the circuit level, with many local suppliers choosing which circuits to shut down and when,” the lawsuit said. “As a result, there were images of empty downtown Houston office buildings with power, but the Pinedas mobile home park was left without power.
Buzbee already represents half a dozen other cases where families have already lost loved ones to the cold, allegedly because they have not obtained precise information on the severity of the impending energy crisis.
“It’s so ironic to me … Texas is the energy capital of the country, as the United States proudly proclaims its energy independence, we no longer rely on you know the Middle East, etc.” said Buzbee. “And yet we have people dying in Houston, Texas, in their homes because they don’t have electricity.
Entergy said in a statement that she could not comment on the pending litigation, but the company was “deeply saddened by the loss of life in our community.”
Millions of Texans were without power as an unusual cold spell hit the southwestern state, plunging temperatures below freezing and blanketing the state in ice and snow. ERCOT, which oversees about 90% of Texas’ power production, cited frozen equipment for the loss of production of its natural gas and some renewable energy sources.
Texas is free from federal regulations as it is the only state to use its own power grid, despite being one of the largest producers and consumers of energy in the country. Critics said this independence allowed the state to evade federal demands that would have better prepared the energy grid for winter conditions in order to maximize its profits for private utility providers.
ERCOT has yet to consider the litigation, but added in a statement that it believes it did the right thing to prevent a statewide blackout. The energy manager cited the fact that 46% of private production went offline last Monday.
“Our hearts go out to all Texans who have suffered and are suffering over the past week,” ERCOT said.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said last week that reform of the ERCOT was a top priority, urging the legislature to investigate the energy grid service.
“This is unacceptable,” Abbot said. “Reviewing ERCOT’s preparations and decisions is an urgent element so that we can get a full picture of what caused this problem and find long-term solutions.”