Family Settles Explosive HVAC Case for $2 Million

By Greg Kohn

What is an example of actionable negligence in the HVAC industry?

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning are vital components to a well-constructed and comfortable home. As such, the number of HVAC entities in existence both locally and nationwide seems to grow each year – as do the number of reported accidents involving defective parts, faulty installation, or negligent post-installation cleanup.

The latter was the basis for a $2 million settlement between two Cape May retirees and Shore Guys Heating and Air Conditioning, which stemmed from a horrific 2013 explosion causing lasting and severe injuries for the couple.
Details of HVAC negligence allegations

According to allegations, the plaintiffs opted in 2013 to switch their home from propane to natural gas. In that process, they enlisted the services of Shore Guys to switch out the old equipment in favor of newer, updated models. Allegedly, Shore Guys took the proper precautions by cutting the propane lines under the home and shutting off the valves, but thereafter failed to lock the propane tank and remove it from the property.

In November 2013, the plaintiffs had difficulty lighting their gas fireplace and called a neighbor for assistance. After a brief inspection – and presumably not realizing the plaintiffs had switched their home to natural gas – the neighbor noticed the valve of the propane tank was in the ‘closed’ position and opened it to try and alleviate the problem. From there, propane flowed out of the tank and down the pipes, which were severed by Shore Guys during the installation of the natural gas equipment. After several days pooling underneath the house, the propane was ignited when one plaintiff turned on the shower, which ignited the hot water heater and resulted in a massive explosion. The plaintiffs suffered severe bones and broken bones as a result of the incident.

The bulk of the $2.5 million settlement will be paid by Shore Guys, and $275,000 will be paid by South Jersey Fuel and Propane.

If you were recently injured by a home appliance and would like to speak to a reputable attorney, please do not hesitate to contact the Essex County, New Jersey personal injury attorneys at Nagel Rice: 973-618-0400.

About the Author
Greg Kohn is a partner at Nagel Rice and specializes in complex civil litigation cases, including professional malpractice, personal injury, class actions, wrongful death, products liability, and commercial litigation.  He has extensive experience representing clients in both state and federal court. Greg has tried many jury trials to verdict and has recovered over $50 million in settlements and verdicts in all types of personal injury matters including automobile accidents, wrongful death cases, slip and falls, and other catastrophic injury cases. Greg also handles medical malpractice cases, involving misdiagnoses, wrongful birth, and delayed cancer diagnosis. If you have questions regarding this article, you can contact Greg here.