DETROIT — Attorneys from Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C., a Michigan-based personal injury law firm, announced today they have filed a lawsuit for two victims injured in a natural gas home explosion in Harper Woods, Mich.
The case was filed Monday in Wayne County Circuit Court in Detroit.
The explosion occurred on Sept. 21, 2018, at a single-family home, located at 20839 Lennon Street in Harper Woods. The property was owned by 191 Real Estate Partners, LLC and was vacant at the time of the explosion. It was purchased by the real estate company to fix and flip to a potential buyer.
The home was sold and the deal was expected to be closed pending inspection and appraisal.
At approximately 10:30 a.m., two property appraisers visited the property to finalize the mortgage approval process. The appraisers walked around the property and took photographs of the exterior of the home before attempting to enter the property through the front door using a key from the lockbox.
One appraiser attempted to open the door but was unable to push it open. The second appraiser, the supervisor, managed to forcefully push in the door, and when the door opened, an explosion occurred, throwing the appraisers off the porch, onto the lawn.
“This type of explosion does not occur in the absence of negligence. Property owners have a legal duty to make premises safe for business invitees and this explosion was preventable,” said Buckfire Law president Lawrence J. Buckfire.
The home and its contents were completely destroyed. Other homes on the street also suffered damage from the blast. A neighbor suffered an injury to the foot and was taken to the hospital, and the two appraisers suffered critical injuries and were taken to St. John Hospital in Detroit.
The explosion was investigated by Detroit police and firefighters. It was determined to be caused by natural gas, but the source was not identified. DTE investigators performed an inspection of the property and the gas company determined the explosion was not caused by a gas company leak on the exterior of the property.
Investigators suspected the gas leak was caused by a recently disconnected furnace, but no final determination was made. The furnace was removed from the scene and taken into storage by the police. No other gas appliances were removed from the property.
Both appraisers suffered serious and permanent injuries from the explosion. Both victims required in-patient hospitalizations and have continuing medical problems, which are expected to be permanent in nature.
“It’s truly amazing that no one was killed by this explosion,” Buckfire said. “It completely leveled the home and damaged other nearby properties. The outcome could have been even more tragic.”
The lawsuit alleges various types of negligence against the property owner for the dangerous condition that caused the explosion. This type of incident does not happen absent negligent conduct and with the use of due care. As business invitees on the property, the appraisers were owed the highest duty of care under Michigan law.
The lawsuit seeks compensation for the injured appraisers, including compensation for their pain and suffering, fright and shock, and psychological harm resulting from the blast. The lawsuit also demands payment of lost income and medical expenses incurred due to explosion related-injuries. A trial date has not yet been set by the court.