Shortly after 1 AM on August 1 in Lincoln County, KY six miles south of Danville, truck driver Lisa Derringer had just arrived home after her second shift. At 1:26 AM, Line 15 of the Texas Eastern Transmission Co. pipeline exploded, lighting up the sky. The heat was enough to melt home sidings, liquefy plastic bumpers, and burn the leaves off of trees. It destroyed five homes.
Derringer, a 58-year-old devoted to her children and grandchildren, tried to escape the blast on foot. She attempted to call her daughter, who received the call but was unable to see her mother. Her phone was eventually found a short distance from where her body was found; experts say she died from lack of oxygen, heat, and trauma. Since then, the family has suffered from the loss of their matriarch.
"It's a very rough time for the family. They are very close-knit," Attorney Kyle Findley said. "The mother was obviously the focal point of their lives. They never imagined they would lose her to a pipeline explosion."
Derringer is the ninth person in the United States to die from an explosion on this particular pipeline, which travels 9,000 miles from New York the the southern border of Texas. Of those nine people, six of them died in Kentucky. Explosions like this take a toll on the survivors too; take Derringer's neighbor William Coulter, for instance.
"I can't sleep at night, my wife's afraid to sleep at night, she sleeps in the daytime," Mr. Coulter said. "I didn't have nothing wrong with me like that until—my voice has changed. And like I said, I'm weak, I'm nervous. I never was like that, that's bad."
The Lawsuit Against Enbridge
The pipeline is owned by Texas Eastern Transmission Co., in turn owned by a Canadian energy company called Enbridge. The suit our firm filed includes both Enbridge and Spectra Energy Transmission (which merged with Enbridge in 2017). Our suit affirms that Enbridge failed to properly inspect its lines, failed to properly train its employees, and committed other negligent acts that directly led to Lisa's death. Enbridge filed a response to the lawsuit that denied any wrongdoing on their part.
However, our Kentucky pipeline explosion lawyers have evidence that shows otherwise—the NTSB found two failures on Line 15 prior to the explosion. We also have evidence that the 30-inch pipe was leaking before the explosion occurred. The company has an inspection report from this year of Line 15, but they have yet to release it.
"I would not be surprised if the company knew that his pipeline was leaking at some point in time before this explosion occurred," Attorney Kyle Findley said in an interview with LEX18. In another interview, Mr. Findley spoke from experience: “It’s not something that just happens. It’s something that happens of result of years of neglect or years of ignored warnings and we have no doubt that those are the things that occurred here."
Widespread Media Coverage
The case has earned the attention of news providers all over Kentucky, all of whom are either familiar with the pipeline problems the state often faces or recognize how heartbreaking the Derringer family's story is. News coverage is an important component of holding companies accountable, so we're glad that reporters are bringing attention to this story; we're also glad they're bringing attention to a serious and preventable problem.
The following news sites have covered the Lincoln County pipeline explosion:
Much of the coverage not only mentions the accident, but why our firm is holding Enbridge at fault for the death of Lisa Derringer.
Our hope is to get Lisa's family more than compensation—we want them to have the peace of mind that comes from getting justice, from making things right, and from holding wrongdoers accountable. We want them to know that this sort of devastation won't happen to anyone else. We also want the company held to account for Lisa's injuries and suffering before she died, and the harm her death caused our clients. Most of all, we want our lawsuit to prove, publicly and without a doubt, that accidents like this are unacceptable. Mr. Findley puts it best: "I can tell you that over the course of time in dealing with events like this, there's almost always something that could have been done with ample time to prevent something like this from happening...We hope that this lawsuit helps [Enbridge] start to take things more seriously."