The children of a woman who died after a natural-gas explosion in her Bellevue home last fall have sued Puget Sound Energy (PSE), saying...
The children of a woman who died after a natural-gas explosion in her Bellevue home last fall have sued Puget Sound Energy (PSE), saying the company did not do enough to prevent their mother’s death.
The lawsuit filed Friday in King County Superior Court accuses the company of negligence, saying it left a natural-gas leak unchecked until it finally ignited and exploded, severely burning 68-year-old Frances Schmitz. She died several weeks later, on Sept. 25, from related injuries.
The family’s lawyer, David Beninger of Seattle, has not specified monetary damages, but the lawsuit asks for damages “as the jury feels is just.” More important, Beninger said, the family wants better access to PSE’s investigation, which began last autumn.
“It’s gone on too long, and there’s not been enough public disclosure,” Beninger said. “We’re anxious to get at the problem and fix what needs to be fixed.”
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PSE spokesman Grant Ringel said the company has made “great progress” and expects to end its investigation this summer.
“We’re sympathetic to the family’s needs,” Ringel said. “We understand their desire to move forward with the issue.”
But some studies have not been completed. Investigators are looking into two separate issues, Ringel said: the cause of the explosion in the Schmitz home, and the condition of the system that serves the surrounding Spiritridge neighborhood.
So far, the investigation has not turned up anything dangerous in the neighborhood’s piping, Ringel said. But the company is replacing pipes in the system anyway, to “give more peace of mind” to the residents who live in that area.
Cara Solomon: 206-464-2024 or firstname.lastname@example.org