CONROE, Texas — The family of an 11-year-old boy who died in an unheated Texas mobile home last week has filed a $100 million lawsuit against two of the state’s major energy providers, according to multiple reports.
The Washington Post and ABC News report Maria Elisa Pineda is suing Entergy Texas and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), accusing the companies of gross negligence in the death of her son, Cristian.
In an interview with Univision, Maria said she found Cristian dead under a pile of blankets on his bed last Tuesday. Family suspects the boy died from hypothermia. The home they were in didn’t have power due to last week’s historic winter storms.
Though the Pineda family believes Cristian died from the cold, authorities say his official cause of death is pending the results of an autopsy.
Maria told Univision that she recently paid for Cristian to be brought to the Houston area from Honduras, so they could be together. She also said her son had been playing in the snow just the night before and “everything was fine.”
Along with negligence, the family’s lawsuit also accuses the energy companies of failing to protect the state’s power grid from the drop in temperatures that left more than 4 million people without electricity, heat or water for days, The Post reports.
The suit also alleges that the utility companies “put profits over the welfare of the people” by ignoring previous recommendations to the winterize the power grid, which failed and led to at least 30 deaths throughout the state, ABC News reports.
The lawsuit reportedly shows the family is seeking damages, funeral expenses and a judgment of more than $100 million.
KTRK in Houston obtained statements from the two companies in response to the lawsuit. Entergy said it’s “saddened by the loss of life,” but it was “unable to comment due to pending litigation.” As for ERCOT, the company said it’s confident that its operators made the right decisions.
"We haven't yet reviewed the lawsuits and will respond accordingly once we do,” ERCOT told KTRK. “Our thoughts are with all Texans who have and are suffering due to this past week. However, because approximately 46% of privately-owned generation tripped offline this past Monday morning, we are confident that our grid operators made the right choice to avoid a statewide blackout."