Four lawsuits filed in downtown Durham gas explosion that killed 2, injured 25

WTVD logo
Monday, June 22, 2020
Four lawsuits filed in downtown Durham gas explosion that killed 2, injured 25
Four lawsuits filed in downtown Durham gas explosion that killed 2, injured 25

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Four lawsuits were filed Monday in connection with the deadly April 2019 gas explosion in downtown Durham.

The lawsuits were filed by the Raleigh law firm Edwards Kirby, LLP, and allege that eight companies were negligent, leading to the April 10 explosion that killed two and left others injured.

In all, 25 people were injured by the explosion--nine of them firefighters.

One suit was filed on behalf of the family of Kong Lee, the owner of the Kaffeinate coffee shop, who was killed in the blast.

Durham releases findings, recommendations following gas explosion

"This tragedy was caused by a cascade of errors," Attorney David Kirby said. "The gas line would not have been ruptured if standard safety protocols were followed by all the contractors involved in the planning and execution of a major underground cable installation project in downtown Durham. Things only got worse when no one immediately called 911 to report a major gas leak that could have been shut off preventing the explosion."

The other litigation was filed on behalf of three others who were injured:

  • Richard V. Meyers, of Raleigh, a bus driver who was pulling up across from the coffee shop when the explosion happened;
  • Katrics Edwards, of Selma, who was walking to Kaffeinate at the time of the blast;
  • Jasper O. Poole, of Durham, who was delivering flowers in the area.

Meyers' Carolina Livery shuttle van was destroyed by the blast. Only he and one passenger were on board.

"The Lord preserved my life. I'm grateful for that, because it's been tough. He's been awesome," an emotional Meyers told ABC11 in April, one year after the blast.

Bus cams capture moment of Durham gas explosion.

The companies named in the lawsuit include Optic Cable Technology of Durham, which was operating the drill when it struck the gas line, and PS Splicing, of Oxford, which hired Optic Cable.

Others named in the suit include Crown Castle Fiber and three related fiber-technology companies that the lawsuit claims were in charge of the project, Tower Engineering Professionals of Raleigh and Public Service Gas Company of North Carolina, which "failed to adequately respond" once the leak was found, the lawsuit alleged.

The lawsuit asks for unspecified damages.

PSNC worker Jay Rambeaut, a first responder rushing to the scene to help shut off the gas, also died in the blast.

NOTE: Video is from a previous report and will be updated.

Helmet camera videos show firefighter response to Durham gas explosion

New 3D images show gas explosion in Durham moments after it happened

Durham fire chief cites lessons learned from deadly gas explosion