Dallas/ Crime & Emergencies
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Published on January 15, 2024
In Aftermath of Fort Worth Hotel Explosion, Victims File Lawsuits Citing Negligence Against Sandman Hotel and Atmos EnergySource: Google Street View

A horrific blast at Fort Worth's Sandman Signature Hotel has spurred a flurry of lawsuits, with the latest coming from a Tarrant County man who claims his escape from the explosion left him with physical and psychological scars. Christopher Medearis, allegedly injured while fleeing the scene, is targeting both the hotel entities and the gas company, Atmos Energy, in his legal battle.

Medearis was working near the hotel when it exploded around 3:30 p.m. last Monday. As he attempted to evacuate, Medearis "tripped, fell, and as a result suffered personal bodily injury." The lawsuit also details a host of subsequent ailments, including insomnia, a racing heart, and anxiety. It not only accuses the hotel management of failing to provide a safe environment but also slams Atmos Energy for not monitoring potential gas leaks and pressure regulation devices properly, as stated in the legal documents obtained by the news outlet, according to KERA News.

A statement from Medearis' representation from Kherkher Garcia was damning, suggesting that "The defendants prioritized profit over safety with catastrophic results." Meanwhile, a separate lawsuit has emerged from José Mira, an employee of the Musume restaurant located at the hotel's basement level. Mira claimed he smelled intense natural gas and reported it to management 90 minutes before the explosion, an odor that had been present since that morning, according to the lawsuit. Mira, now suffering from a traumatic head injury and breathing difficulties, has taken legal action, alleging gross negligence on behalf of the hotel and Atmos Energy, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Following these incidents and as the legal pressure mounts, Dallas County Judge Sally Montgomery has issued a temporary restraining order to halt cleanup efforts at the hotel - a decision intended to prevent the removal of evidence crucial to Mira's case. The hotel and Atmos have each articulated their commitment to cooperating with ongoing investigations, as stated in an email communication and press releases that were published following the aftermath of the ordeal. On one hand, Sandman Hotel is asserting that supporting those affected remains a priority, while on the other, Atmos has declared after internal investigations that their system had no involvement in the explosion.

As detectives delve deeper into unraveling the cause of the blast, at least 21 casualties have been accounted for, some of which are facing critical and serious injuries from the explosion that wreaked havoc through the newly renovated, century-old structure in downtown Fort Worth. The actions of the plaintiffs and the legal heat now applied to the defendants are telling tales of a demand for accountability, as the search for truth and justice for the injured employees and bystanders continues to unfold in Texas courts.