Opening Argument RE: Injuries Sustained By Customer Due To Natural Gas Distributor

Opening Argument RE: Injuries Sustained By Customer Due To Natural Gas Distributor

| Oct 23, 2020 | Firm News, Personal Injury, Products Liability |

Good morning. A natural gas distributor or its contractor must never expose its customers to needless danger. And if they do, and as a result, if someone is hurt, the gas company and its contractor is responsible for the harm. Every time gas to a house is turned on, even if its only been off for a few minutes, before the gas company can turn the gas back on to that house, they are required to, one, visually inspect and trace all of the gas lines in the house and they’re doing that to trace them to the end to make sure that the end of every line is attached to either an appliance, or if not attached to an appliance, has a cap on the end of it.  And after that they need to then test all of the downstream lines from the meter, all the lines in the house to make sure that, in fact, all of the lines have caps and there are no leaks. Then and only then does the gas get turned on.  So we have trace, first, and then test and only then, turn on in that order. And if this is followed, uncapped gas lines in homes will be discovered. They’ll be found.  You see open gas lines without a cap on the need, needlessly endanger people. And as a result, if someone’s injured because of that, those companies are responsible for the harm. So let’s go through this  We have first Trace. Trace all the exposed lines in the house when the gas is turned on. Next, Test, Yes all of the lines to make sure that all of the lines hold pressure.  And then, finally. Then turn on. Those are the three Ts.

Now Columbia Gas is the largest natural gas utility in the state of Ohio. They own — NiSource owns Columbia Gas. They pump their pressurized gas into four million homes every day, 24 hours a day seven days a week. And Nisource is one of America’s largest companies. Before they can sell gas in Ohio, they have to come to an agreement and a tariff with Ohio, with PUCO, and they have to guarantee certain standards will be followed and safety procedures will take place. And in exchange or agreeing that those safety thinks will be done, they’re given the right and the permission then to sell gas to Ohioans.  Now, Columbia Gas decided to replace a main line down in —along Sixth Street in Portsmouth. Columbia Gas then hired C. J. Hughes a construction company. Now let me show you a little bit about who these people are. (showing chart) First, we have Columbia Gas/Nisource. Their slogans are “Keeping you Safe,” Our programs Keep you Safe” “WE go above and beyond to keep our customers safe” and their employee is Josh A.  This is their website  saying that their programs to keep you safe.  They then hire C. J. Hughes Corporation to actually install lines for them. These 20,000 miles of gas line that you heard Mr Mun. talk about.  Their employee who is in charge of reestablishing gas is Jeffrey Ram So I tell you these names so you can kind of keep things straight because we’re going to be talking about names so you know who is associated with who.

You’re going to hear that there is constant communication going back and forth between Josh Are and Jeffrey Ram Josh Ake is a coordinator, Jeff  calls him his inspector. And his job is to go around and make sure everything’s done right on the job site and C. J. Hughes is doing the right thing.  C. J. Hughes then has Jeff Ram. They’re working the Sixth Street project, and this house is specifically the 717 Sixth Street house.  So the relationship between Columbia Gas and C. J. Hughes, you’re going to see is a long one. They’ve been working together for 48 since 1948 for over 70 years they’ve been working together. Josh A with Columbia Gas, he’s out on the job site. He double checked their work. He makes sure that all the standards are followed. You’re going to hear that when they put pressure into the main line he is on the site. He’s there, he has a cell phone. He’s available to C. J. Hughes and all of the C. J. Hughes employees 24 hours a day seven days a week for any questions or calls they have. He takes his tape measure, he sticks it into the ditch to make sure that the ditch is deep enough before they cover the ditch up. So this is a hand in glove relationship between Columbia Gas and C. J. Hughes and in particular Josh Ake and Jeff Ram and other employees at C. J. Hughes. So the homeowners on Sixth Street were told there’s going to be a short gas outage because what they were doing putting in a new line  and they were going to run a service line up to each house. One of those homeowners was Harold and Connie Say who owned the house at 717 Sixth Street.You are going to hear that Mr S is going to testify he was – he’s a former superintendent of the schools down there. He purchased this home from Shawnee State University about 16 years prior and he rents out three apartments in the home. So on June 2, Columbia Gas and C. J. Hughes are ready to hook up this new service line to the house. And they – they’re going to hook it up and Mr Say notified that,  the gas is going to be off for a short period of time. We’re going to have to come back to walk through it. Because the gas has been turned off, Columbia Gas and C. J. Hughes , they’re required to do a required safety inspection of the house before the gas is reestablished. And if we look the required safety inspection, this is – this is a contract between Columbia Gas and C. J. Hughes And it specifically says what you have to follow in doing this, you have to follow applicable Columbia Policy and procedures and requirements of the NFPA, National Fuel Gas Code. And  it says specifically that you most do visual inspection of the piping. Those three words. Visual inspection of piping and follow Columbia Gas Standards. That’s by contract between them. They all understand that. They’ve all agreed to it and that’s what’s supposed to be done. Now, Jeffrey Ram, in June was new, relatively new at the job of reestablishing gas service. He had worked for C. J. Hughes for some period of time but he’s new at doing this.  So he meets Mr Say at the house. He starts to go through the apartment looking for appliances.  Let’s show you what the house looked like. (showing drawings)  Over to the left is the floor plan, and to the right is kind of a shot on the side of the house So here’s what Ram from C. J. Hughes does he goes into every room, was in the building, and he starts going from room to room to room to room looking for appliances He’s also going through here looking for exposed gas lines so that he can see where everything is. So he says that he goes through every room. And what happens is he goes into his bedroom, right here, Bedroom No 1. So he starts his inspection on the first floor, he goes to the bedroom, he walks in here, and right here, where that red dot is, is an exposed gas line. And you can actually see the picture of it over here, You see the exposed gas line going right up along the wall and you see it coming out of the floor right here. That exposed gas line, ladies and gentlemen, did not have a cap on it. And that exposed gas line was going to Lisa’s bedroom. This is the cap right here, Home Depo., less than a dollar, that’s the cap that was missing from this line. The line went up. Trace it on up The line goes right there up to the second floor in Lisa’s bedroom.  So Ram, then, after not seeing that pipe – he says he should have seen it; admits he should have seen it, he says what he would do is he would trace that line down to see where it went. So he goes up to the second floor and walks right past Lisa’s bedroom he does not walk in Lisa’s bedroom. Continues on down, looks at the stove, continues back out, even though he’s supposed to walk in every room, he doesn’t go in her room at all. And he goes out the steps and down-back down to the first floor He then goes outside the house and this is the picture of the house.  So around the lefthand side of the house where the meter is.  So what he does is he goes out to the pipe and he puts – he decides to do his pressure test before he’s been in the basement He puts the pressure on the line and he starts putting air into the house to see if the downstream lines hold and don’t leak out. So he’s putting air in and the air is going in and it’s going out to all the appliances, and the air stops at any shut-off valves that are in the house.  And what happened in this case is – there’s where he was, right there that’s the valve. This is what’s in the basement.  Ram had not been in the basement yet, so he was putting air in over here, right up here.  The airs coming in and it’s flowing.  You see all the candy cane stripes, thats where the air pressure is going, What you see right there, right there, there’s a valve. And that valve is in the off position so it would be right here.

His air pressure test did not go past his closed valve.  That closed valve. That air pressure was this line going here and all the way up to Lisa’s bedroom that line was never air pressure tested. It was a long stretch of gas pipe. This downstream pipe travels 40 feet and into Lisa’s bedroom.  And it went right in the bedroom where she was, right there.  Went right into that bedroom and it went right up to the second floor.  So he hasn’t been in the basement yet to look for closed valves because you never air pressure test against a closed valve because that means you’re not testing the rest of the house. He hadn’t been in the basement yet. So he then connects the meter back up because his test held because he’s checking against the valve. He turns on the gas and now natural gas flows into the house with a house that has an uncapped, untraced and untested gas line.  Ram then goes back outside he sees the owner and for the first time, he decides to go to the basement. Now, he will admit that this was contrary to the order in which he’s been taught. He’s supposed to do all the inspections first and if the inspection doesn’t pass you stop and you don’t need to go on to the testing. So he goes back in the apartment. He goes throughout the apartment with his tester, his sniffer and he’s checking all the lines, all the exposed lines to see if there’s any gas leak. He goes thorough the first floor, he goes up to the second floor, and once again doesn’t go into Lisa’s bedroom to look for where the pipe went.  So  for the first time he says, “I’m going to go to the basement.”  He gets to the second step right before here and he looks down and he see what we later determine to be about a half foot of raw sewage in the basement. He stops, He sees the sewage, he’s not sure what it is so he calls a co worker who is Willie S,

  1. J. Hughes’ employee, who is a foreman out on the job site on this job, “Willy will you come over here. What is this?“ WiIlie Smith who also reestablishes gas service comes down and he says, “That’s raw sewage.” Nobody knew it was there when they first started the inspection. In fact, Mr S tells them, “you know, this has happened in the past. There was a storm the other day.” And so when Ram sees this sewage he says to himself that stinks, It smells. Its explosive gas. Sewage can put off explosive gas, “I’m not going down there. I’m going to look to see what appliances there are” and when he makes that corner, there’s a hot water tank and a furnace. He goes out to his truck to get his muck boots on, brings back some red tags comes back down into the basement. Wades into the sewage. He takes a wrench, and puts it on a stop valve here for the hot water tank to turn off the gas to that. He turns off this valve on the furnace. He gets out of there. He’s in that basement less than 30 seconds according to Willie S and he hands the owner the two red tags and says. “We’re just going to red tag those When the sewage gets away, you can turn the furnace and the hot water tank on”.

In this basement, there were all kinds of lines going all different directions up into the house  Ram says he’s concerned for his safety because of disease in the sewage the explosive nature of the gas that is coming off of it, his own health and he does not relight, of course, the furnace or the hot water tank but he doesn’t  go out and turn off the gas at the meter.

Now neither the furnace nor the hot water tank have anything to do with this explosion that occurred.  Just so that you know that now. So Ram then with C. J. Hughes, he’s got an issue with this sewage in the basement so he calls Columbia Gas coordinator Josh A, his inspector.  And he says to A, “Look. I’m over here at 717. The basement is filled with sewage I was in the basement less than 30 seconds. I red tagged the two appliances I’m done” and A’s says, “fine.” The fact that he told Ake means that Ake would have known the gas was still on.  And Ake has admitted that you can’t do a proper inspection of gas lines in a basement in 30 seconds.  And Ram admits that he didn’t look at any of the gas lines in the basement, except to turn off the two valves. And so we asked Josh A. in this deposition:

Question:  “Well, tell us about this phone call you got about the sewage Why was the gas allowed to remain on?

Answer: I don’t remember the phone call Question: Why do you mean you don’t remember the phone call?

Answer: I don’t remember”  And so we asked for the phone records of Ram at C. J. Hughes and we got the phone records. And, in fact, they show that the pone call was made to A. at Columbia Gas at 5:20 p.m.  R’s paperwork shows he’s filling out his last paperwork to be done with the job around 5:40 p.m. It was a one minute phone call. Plenty of time to tell Ake what happened in 30 seconds  So Mr Say doesn’t know any different. He assumes that the inspection was fine. When sewage is cleaned out, you’re allowed to relight your appliances. You see, in all these 17 years he owned the house, the gas had never been turned off.  This was the first, time because of this turnoff, that the gas lines were to be inspected by Columbia Gas.  So Ram from C. J. Hughes, there’s the valve that he was testing against that was in the off position. That’s what the basement actually looks like with all of these – these are pipes  This is the picture with all the furnace pipes and all the furnace pipes removed. You see gas lines going all those directions. None of them were inspected at all. There’s the phone record at 5:20 showing a phone call made, that last line, which is the phone call made to the phone number that’s registered to Josh Ake, Columbia Gas This is the DIS order, the order of the paperwork that R. filled out.  This is an order that’s sent to Columbia Gas the next day.  And here’s what it says: Further action required: Blank. It says about house lines and service lines, approved, disapproved. Thats not marked There was a blank as to further work to be done. Now, the meter has the ability to be locked out. Meters get locked out all the time for all kinds of reasons. They get locked out when inspections fail. They get locked out when they haven’t been able to complete an inspection for any reason at all. They get locked out when the customer hasn’t paid the bill. So two days later A calls—A from Columbia Gas call C. J. Hughes, Ram, and says, ‘Hey will you go over there. The Sayres is away on vacation. Will you go over there and light that furnace and hot water tank” R says, “Fine” So Ram goes back. Now, the second time he has gone back. This is on June 4, two days later. He tells Ake, “Fine” he goes over, he takes the key, he opens the door He goes, starts to go down the basement steps. He says in a written statement, that he made that turn and saw three of four blowers. The sewage was gone, but the blowers were there trying to try to dry everything out. He’s down in that basement . He’s standing there and he turns around and leaves. Doesn’t look at one line in the basement. He knew he had been there. He knew that he did not look at any lines. He’s accepted the responsibility that he should have done it. He’s testified in deposition that if the sewage hadn’t been there he would have tested all the lines, he would have examined all the line. He turns around and leaves. The reason that he gives for why he left is because he was uncomfortable because Mr Say wasn’t with him.  He put the keys back under a flower pot or some predesignated place. He then calls Columbia Gas, Josh Ake, says, “Im not doing it.” We asked Josh Are about that phone call of making the arrangement with the key.  No memory.  We asked Josh A “Do you remember when Ram said he wasn’t  going to do it?” Same, no memory. We subpoenaed phone records. On June 4, there are phone calls, multiple phone calls, four phone calls between Josh Are at Columbia Gas and C. J. Hughes. So the gas remains on at the house. Two months later, Lisa and her roommate have decided to attend Shawnee State University to study for a masters degree. And they’ve all graduated from college, a university They were happy to find Mr Say’s apartment. It was on the second floor. It was a fair rent. Gas was included, no heat bills to worry about because there was only on furnace. This is a brand new furnace installed 17 years ago by Shawnee State. They were happy with Mr Say. He was a good landlord He responded to all their needs he took care of them.  In October it started to get – you get some of the days where it’s warm and some of days when it started to get chilly on a couple days.  And Lisa and her roommate called Mr Say and said.”Hey, can we get he gas turned on?”  He goes “Yeah sure” and he went down to the start the furnace, and it wouldn’t start. So he calls GHAC a furnace repair company. And in the meantime, Mr Say brought over some space heaters just to take the edge off and make sure – there was some wall heaters there, but just to make sure they were comfortable until the furnace got fixed by GHAC. Now this is about four and one half months later. Its actually October 24 so its about four and one half months from June 2 visit and about two months after they have been there.  So, Mr Say meets Shane Ginn at the property about 9 in the morning. First of all, there was a wall unit on the floor that needed to be fixed. Shane Ginn goes to the wall unit. He fixes the wall unit. He getting it lit. He next goes back downstairs, and he’s now going to light the furnace.  He goes up to the furnace and he turns that little red knob that Ram from C. J. Hughes had turned off to get gas not to flow to the furnace.  He goes down. He opens up the furnace. He’s got all the lights that are flashing. They all mean different things.  And the glow stick is coming on, which means the igniters on. What happens is the gas flows in and it ignites, but yet no gas is flowing. So Mr Ginn goes, “Maybe we’re not getting gas to the furnace.”  So he looks up and sees the gas valve and turns the gas valve on, pulls out his wrench and turns the gas valve on. He decides “Well maybe it’s a control board issue.” So he goes up to his truck. He calls his boss and said, “Look this is what’ve done. What do you think?” They think, “Well maybe we can get a new control board in. Maybe that’s the problem” because the control board controls the valve that opens up and lets the gas come in.  He goes back downstairs to the basement. He’s working in the basement and all of a sudden he hears an explosion.  He doesn’t know what it is at the exact moment. He returns back up those steps and goes outside and he sees fire and smoke and an explosion in that building.  This is what the building looked like afterward, all the windows are boarded up. But you can see Lisa’s bedroom up there. And over there you can see the uncapped gas line.  I’ll circle them right there up in the right hand corner.  The —I’m going to show you we had a video camera from around the area that captured part of this explosion.  I’m going to show you that.  Look up the right hand corner.  That’s the explosion. Boom. And that was what changed Lisa’s life . The results of this explosion are this, and what you’re seeing here is Lisa’s bedroom. And you can see where Lisa’s bedroom was, used to be. Upon hearing this explosion and seeing all this fire and everything going on Shawn Ginn runs out. He sees it. He runs back into the building. He goes first up to the first floor where he had worked on that and turned off the gas to that unit on the first floor. He then goes back down in to the basement and goes over to the valves that he had turned on and turns them into the off position. And then he leaves that basement, goes outside. Within a few minutes the firefighters arrive. He says to the firefighters’ Let me tell you what I did, I turned on this valve on the first floor. I turned on this valve on in the basement. And I went back down, and turned them off just now.”

The firefighters are there battling the blaze all day long. The Fire Marshall shows up. The Ohio State Fire Marshall, the official Fire Marshall for the state of Ohio, they show up to investigate this explosion. And Shane Ginn meets with them and tells them “This is exactly what I did.” Josh Ake is in the area.  Many people hear this explosion from all over, see this plume of smoke going up. Josh Ake shows up. He sees the fire Marshalls. He recognizes the house. He knew they had just been at the house four and a half months before. Nothing. Doesn’t say a word. He doesn’t say that we had been out there four months earlier. Well, the Ohio State Fire Marshals, they went in and they inspected  They found the 40 foot of pipe. They followed the pipe up. They followed it right through the basement right to the first floor bedroom. They follow the exposed line up And then to the closet, in the back corner of the closet in Lisa’s room was the end of that pipe. And what they did, there’s the end of the pipes. You can look at it over here if you wish. They’ve cut this out. That’s the end of the pipe They put a glove on the end of the pipe. They’ve put a pressure test on it . And they recharged all the lines with pressure.  And they know you can’t test against a valve. They went inland they opened up that valve and the gas went through and blew up the surgical glove, proving that that was the source of the explosion. And no one denies that  in this case. The fire Marshall ruled out all other potential causes and came to the conclusion that the cause of this explosion was an uncapped gas line, that gas line was 40 feet long, had seven joints in it and we – The investigators took the gas line out of the house and laid it in the parking lot. And you can see – you can see the line going along the basement here, the line here and you see the different color of the pipe that was in the bedroom you can see the last 16 inches high up to the base of Lisa’s bedroom floor in the closet. The Say’s get in their car later. They rush over to Portsmouth hospital to see how Lisa is doing. She’s already been transferred to Ohio University.

We are suing Columbia Gas and NiSource in their employee because of what they did in this case. Nisource is the expert in this case. They’ve got over four million customers that they’ve providing gas to.  We’re suing C. J. Hughes and their employee Jeff Ram. They are a major gas utility company. They work in three states, and they’ve worked hand in glove with Columbia Gas for all these years, since 1948

Columbia Gas has put into place certain safety standards that have to be followed. And the Ohio law has a safety rule too that says you have to test all downstream lines of the meter. So let’s go through these. First there is the Columbia Gas standard that they have, It says—And we can read it – visual inspection of exposed lines, visual inspection of exposed lines, appliances, and meter prior to turning on. Arrangement must be made with the customer for access  to all rooms in the building where outlets and operating controls may exist. The object is determine that any disconnected gas outlet, including shutoff valves are properly capped or plugged.  That’s why Columbia Gas requires an actual visual inspection of all lines, period.

Now we go to the PUCO tariff. Before Columbia Gas can sell gas they have to agree to this.  It says: In addition, prior to the establishment or reestablishment of gas service, the gas piping downstream of the meter must be tested by the company or it representatives.  Jeff Ram and C. J. Hughes were that representative of Columbia Gas. Columbia Gas decided on who to choose. They decide to choose Jeff Ram and they decide to choose C. J. Hughes to do their testing.

Everybody agrees in this case that there wasn’t an inspection done. This particular code provision says gas piping downstream of meter must be tested, Josh Ram I’m sorry, Jost Ake from Columbia Gas and Jeff Ram of C. J. Hughes both admit that all the valves have to be open before you can test all downstream lines, which is required by Ohio law. So we took the depositions of Josh Ake from Columbia Gas. An we said” let’s go through what your standards require. What do you teach? What do you instruct?  What do you tell them they have to do? What do your standards say?” And I went through that and we identified through this testimony at least six failures by C. J. Hughes in doing this inspection.  First, according to Ake himself—and this is Columbia Gas. Ram did not trace the exposed line from the first bedroom up to the second bedroom.  And Ram admits he should have seen the line. He agreed with that. Ram then failed to walk into Lisa bedroom to look for the end of the pipe and to see and determine it is attached to an appliance, or if it’s not, I need to see the end of it to make sure it’s capped.  He failed to finish the visual inspection of the house before he went out and turned on the gas. He failed to look for any in line valves in the basement because they have to be opened before you can pressure test all the lines. He failed by going out of order and turning on live gas without even being in the basement yet.  He failed to inspect any of the basement lines in the basement, and yet, Josh Ake from Columbia Gas allowed the gas to stay on.

The first reason we are suing Columbia Gas and NiSource and C. J. Hughes is that they did not visually test all the lines to confirm that each pipe was to an appliance or a cap. There were two times that happened, once in the bedroom and once down in the basement. Ram said, Here’s what Ram said in his deposition I asked him, And you didn’t see any lines?”  Objection Sustained  All right  So we asked him you didn’t see any lines? You didn’t see any exposed lines in the basement No. We took out the photograph of the bedroom and said, “What’s that?’ He said, “That’s a line running up through the ceiling.” and I asked him, “That’s an exposed line?” He said, “Yeah” I said. “That’s something that you should have able to see if you’re looking, right?” he said, “Yep. Right.” Ram next admits in his deposition that he was only in the basement for 30 seconds. I said, “So you know how many lines from the basement were going up into the house, ‘Nope, I was in the basement 30 seconds.” “So you don’t know how many lines were going up?” His answer, “No.” You see it’s dangerous to violate a Columbia Gas standard which requires re-lighters and inspectors to visually tack all the lines, to look for the absence of a cap. Now, missing caps are dangerous. And these tests by Columbia Gas are design specifically to find missing caps that is why the standards require tracing to the end.  So I asked Ake I asked Jeff I asked Josh Ake I said,
“Well assume the line is coming into the basement and then the house line starts to go in different directions in the basement. And then do you try to track the lies going up into the house.” “Yes” What are you trying to accomplish by doing that? You’re establishing that each of those lines is attached to an appliance or a capped line.” Columbia Gas’ words.  “And what are you supposed to do under the standards if you see gas line that goes up along a wall up to the second floor?” “You continue to trace the line.” How do you trace that line?” “You would need access to the second floor.” “Okay and then you go up to the next floor, what are you looking for?” You’re looking for an appliance or a capped line.” “And let’s suppose you can’t find an appliance. What do you do ?” “Well, you turn off the gas if you can’t find the end to confirm that this cap (pointing to a cap) is on it.”

Gas cannot- then service cannot be reestablished those are their words, because under our standard you have to either find the appliance that the line is connected to or find a cap.  Now we have hired Jullian Balance and Steve Peitropaolo, both engineers here in the United States with degrees in the United States. They are familiar with code.  They’re familiar with safety rules, and they agree that if you don’t track all the lines to the house to their end, you’re negligent.  It not reasonable careful under the circumstances when you’re dealing with gas. No exceptions, no excuses, no shortcuts because you can’t needlessly endanger the public by not doing it. They’ll explain their conclusion that they were negligent in this case is more likely right than wrong, In fact it is significantly higher than that. They’re sure. Columbia Gas coordinator Josh Ake in fact admits that this needs to be done before the gas can be turned on. And here is a reason why. Why do you have to see the end of the line? Because you could just pressure test and if the pressure test hold until the end you’re good. Columbia Gas says NO.  You have to do more than that.  You have to see the end of the line. You have to see this cap. (holding up)  You have to determine that it’s on there, and you got to make sure your gas goes to the end of the cap in your test and here’s why.  They have found guess what, duct tap on these lines. The duct tap may hold a pressure test but it will fail. That’s why Columbia Gas requires under their standards you have to see the line to make sure this dollar cap is on.

The safety standards were written because that’s foreseeable. You’re going to hear that they were written to protect against foreseeable events that occur And its foreseeable that a valve will be turned on.

If you have this situation, the valve is in the off position by code, you have to have a cap on the end of it because valves leak, they get turned on and when that happens, the cap stops the gas from going further.

Columbia Gas acknowledged all this through Josh Ake and his testimony.  Ballanco and Peitropaolo will explain to you that it is foreseeable that gas lines end up leaking gas and you need to seal it up tight.  You see values get opened, they get old they start to leak. Vibrations can cause them to leak. And Ram has testified himself, from C. J. Hughes, that this particular valve that was in this house is known for leak after a period of time. The stems leak, and allow gas to leak out. So there was no cap on the end of that. And the reason that wasn’t discovered is because the inspection was called off prematurely.  Ram has testified that he did not do the inspection and finish the inspection because of the risk to his health. Under the standards what should he have done? And Columbia Gas will tell us. He should have just locked off the gas. Clean up the sewage, call us back we will finish our inspection and we’ll see if it passes. But that wasn’t done. Ram has locked out gas on the occasions where he has been unable to finish an inspection. He has locked out gas where he has found fleas, “This house has got fleas, I not finishing the inspection.” The gas is locked out due to Bed Bugs. He’s locked it out for bed bugs. And the block out should have been done in this case.

Now what happens in the case where you can’t confirm the cap is on it. The standards are simple. You lock off the gas. You tell the owner, “I can’t find the end of the pipe. Call a plumber. Find the end of it and when you do get it capped off. I’ll come back and I’ll start my inspection all over but until then no gas is turned on Now, the easy way plumbers do this is they’ll trace the line back, and they would have traced the line to the basement. If they couldn’t have found the line in the floor of Lisa bedroom, it may or may not have been visible. We’re not sure. You just go down in the basement. Here’s the valve. There’s the line going for 40 feet. You just put a little piece like this in.(showing 6 inch piece of pipe) You put a cap on it in the basement, and you do what’s called abandon the  line. The line is abandoned.  You call Columbia Gas back. They start their inspection all over again.  Visual. Passes the visual . Then they go to the testing. So we asked Jeff Ram. “Well, how often do you run into a situation where the gas line is going up through the roof. You know what he said? “Everyday” “Okay, and what do you do when you see those ?” “I trace them down.” “Well, tell me, how do you do that?” “ You go in the basement, and you see where it goes up and then you go upstairs and you actually try to judge where it’s going through the wall or the attic. And then if it goes up into the attic you get up-he gets up into the attic and crawls around in the attic to look for it” that that’s what he says he should do. “And if you can’t find it? What happens?”  “I lock it off” Well you know he says he crawls around in attics looking for the end of these lines. But in this particular case he didn’t even go in the basement for more than 30 seconds.

The second reason we are suing Columbia Gas and C. J. Hughes is that Ram violated the safety rule requiring inspection to test under air pressure all pipes downstream to the meter.  And I’ve shown you the Administrative Code on that. I’ve ask both of them “Do you have to do a visual inspection of the lines before you do your testing, and what are you doing“ “ You have to make sure that all the in line valves are open before you do your testing  because if they’re not open you’re not testing the lines past the valve. I asked Jeff Ram, I said, ‘You have to make sure all the lines are open?” “Yeah” I asked Josh Ake, from Columbia Gas, “do you have to make sure all the lines are open?” “Yes” “How do you do that ? Do you just assume they’re all open?” ”No”  You have to, guess what, visually look at the line to make sure all the valves are open. So the order is trace, if you fail, you stop. If you pass that, then you test. And if you pass the then and only then do you turn on. He skipped over-he didn’t finish the inspection and skipped right to the testing and the turn on. That’s why they had an order to follow.

Now Ake, Ake said, “You can’t test against a closed valve unless all the valves are in the open position; would this be a true statement, what I asked him in his deposition” He said yes.  So had he inspected the basement lines he would have seen the in line valve He would have opened it up and then then he would have traced it up going through the bedroom, seen it going up to Lisa’s bedroom.  He would have either found it and capped or not found it and failed. And then, if the valve had been opened when he did his pressure test, it doesn’t hold because air comes out and fails the pressure test.  So you see the redundancy there is. He made so many mistakes.  So much negligence in this. I asked him, I asked Ram, and I’m going to ask him again when he’s on the stand, Prior to the establishment or reestablishment of gas service the gas piping downstream from the meter it must be tested by the company or its representative.  Do you accept that responsibility?” and he said “yes” You have to check all the lines under pressure to needlessly to not needlessly endanger people. No one will dispute that.

Now the third reason we are suing Columbia Gas and C. J. Hughes is they had a second chance. They had a second chance on June 4th. Ram was asked to go over, asked to go over and light the furnace and the hot water tank. He goes to the Sayre house and went down the steps, as I told you, turned the key in because he felt uncomfortable. Now they have been there two times. This company that works together 70 years has been there two times and in those two times, they’ve been there maybe now 45 seconds in the basement.  Josh Aker when I asked him “Well, did Ram say the gas was turned on?” Although he doesn’t remember any phone calls, he says “if the gas is turned on, I assume the standards were followed.”  There’s one rule about gas, because it dangerous substance. You don’t make assumptions. You need to know. So we asked Ram point blank, “Did you tell Ake?”  “Yes, I did” Well the matter was dropped, everybody goes about their business. They are putting new service lines in the homes along the street. The project continues on.

The cause of the explosion? There’s not dispute about that. Lisa had never smelled natural gas before in her life.  The gas is treated with a chemical to smell, kind of some people describe as a rotten egg smell. She was 22, never been exposed to the smell of natural gas. She was in bed when the gas started leaking. She smelled something. She thought it was food that her roommates had been cooking so she texts her roommates, “Were you cooking some food?” She doesn’t get a text back. She next texts the woman that lives downstairs, “Hey, are you doing something downstairs? I don’t understand what the smell is.” Does not get a response back. None of these witnesses in this case have testified in any way blame Lisa.  In fact the reason for the explosion was the uncapped gas line. That was a proximate cause. You may hear that.

Now, before we decided, before we came to trial we had to decide if it mattered that the gas had only been turned off for a few minutes, a couple of hours actually. We asked Josh Ake, No, this is common. This is what happens all the time. We do a quick changeover. The gas is off for a few hours, and we go in and do our safety inspection, according to the Columbia Gas standards and codes. And it happens all the time.  We look to Ohio law and Columbia Gas standards, and there’s nothing that says if your gas is unplugged for a minute or 24 hours the standard changes. It’s all the same, every single time there’s a disruption of service for any length of time. In addition we hired Julius Ballanco, a code expert, the code is clear, establishment or reestablishment of gas every time it’s turned off, turned on, as it was.  Well it’s interesting in this case because C. J. Hughes has gone out and hired an opinion witness who comes in and says. Well, no. When the gas has been turned off, the Columbia Gas standards don’t apply. Objection: He’s talking about testimony that we may choose or not choose to present at trial. The COURT. Okay Just talk about evidence you will present.  Mr Shroyer: Judge, I need to talk about what he’s going to say. Is he going to testify? THE COURT Well, we don’t know, So just talk about testimony you’re going to present, MR SHROYER: Our witnesses say that Columbia Gas knows there are standards. They’ve applied them correctly through their standard written, they’re beautifully written, they’re understandable, they’re clear every time the gas is turned off. Our experts will say the standards do not say, “Oh it only applies if a new tenant moves in and disconnected service” they will say it doesn’t apply when Columbia Gas has only turned it off for nonpayment. It protects everybody for whoever the gas is turned off or on.  And they’ll say it applies- this test applies to all downstream lines that occur and you can’t do a downstream line if unless you do did a visual inspection. So everybody is in agreement on that. You will see if the defense calls an expert that is in disagreement with Ake and their own employee, Jeff Ram,  Peitropaolo and Blanca are engineers. They have degrees at well known institutions here in the United States, and they do not have an engineering degree from a foreign country. Now, what we have here is you’re going to see Josh Ake and Columbia Gas are going to be pointing their finger at Ram. They have a claim against Ram, a legal claim against him in this case. And C. J. Hughes is pointing their finger back at Columbia Gas with this going on.  Another thing we had to determine is who is negligent and who’s got the experience in dealing with the gas. So if the cap had been installed,  there would have been no explosion in October. We looked at that.  And we asked the question of witnesses. “Who has got the experience in dealing with gas lines?”

The answer is Columbia Gas and C. J. Hughes, compared to a repairman, right. Who sold the gas? Columbia Gas. Who is responsible for making the gas in that house and that gas system safe and air tight in the gas pipe? It’s Columbia Gas and C. J. Hughes. Who is trained on how to do this? They are. Who wrote the standard? Columbia Gas wrote the standards Who does Ohio law require to test the line? It’s Columbia Gas and its representative.

Now Columbia Gas and C. J. Hughes, what are they going to do? They’re going to blame the repairman. He was a qualified, trained furnace repairman who is trying to get the furnace started. He looked up and saw a valve that he turned on thinking in his opinion it brought gas to the furnace. In actuality, it  was —the gas was going away from the furnace, He took out his wrench and turned that valve on without checking to see exactly where the meter was to determine the flow. Our experts, Peitropaolo and Ballanco, will say that he should have checked. And they’ll also tell you this is why we have the code to put caps on lines because valves are designed to be turned on.  Valves get turned on all the time by repairmen, tenants, landlords, handymen. Any wrench can turn these valves on. A wrench you’ve got in your toolbox at home will turn it on. But you see the code has thought of all these things that happen in life.  The code is written to account for all the mistakes that human beings make. That’s why we have the code based upon real life experiences of what happened and we know can happen.

A valve in an off position is not the same as a capped valve, So what do we have? Let me – Judge , I want to zip thought here. Let me just advance this. But you see the code has thought of all these thinks that can happen  We have in this case to show that you have to have a visual inspection, those documents I just flipped though which are the contract, PUCO, Columbia Gas standards. And we have one more document. There’s a writing. Its called a training sheet, riding check sheet I think it’s called and its where Columbia Gas tests the people from C. J. Hughes and they have a checklist of the test.  And when you get down to about a third of the way through – you’ll see this in evidence later today-there’s a box that say, inspect house lines to their termination. One more example of everybody in the case, except perhaps one, all agree that you have to visually see all gas lines.

Well, another thing we had to determine is who is Shane Ginn and what did he do and why did he turn the valve. Shawn Ginn you’re going to hear has a two year degree from college.  He has 3,000 hours. He qualified after 3,000 hours of credit, 1,500 from school and 1,500 in live on the job training. He qualified to get this journeyman’s license. So he sat for and took this journeyman’s test, and he passed that. You are going to hear that what he did was he turned that valve on. He thought that was the issue. No one still knows what was wrong with the furnace today. No one is going to give any opinions because they don’t really know. He admitted that he did it. He told the fire chief. He told everybody that he did it and made a mistake.

Now another thing we had to determine is who is supposed to make the gas system safe in the house before Shane Ginn came to the house. Well, that’s Columbia Gas and the representative according to the law.  Now, we don’t have any law or standards that say your gas system should be checked very two years or every five years. It’s only checked whenever the gas is turned off and then turned back on. So that’s a decision that we made as a society that’s what we’re going to do that’s when it gets checked, Columbia Gas and C. J. Hughes were the first ones there. They had a duty to make that house safe, and Jeffrey Ram in his own words has said it 100% safe. It supposed to be 100% safe. Those were his words. Yet they turned on the gas and they sold the gas that caused this explosion.  The tariff that we talked about applies to Columbia Gas and C. J. Hughes, not a repairman. And the national gas code and the Ohio Administrative Code apply to Columbia Gas and C. J. Hughes, not a repairman. These standards are there to protect against explosions from turns, on valves by any number of people as we talked about. And it just takes the cap.

Another thing we had to determine is. “Well, this has been uncapped for years and years, more than 17 years before Mr Sayre even owned the property. Everyone admits that they didn’t know, no one knew it was there. You see, the Sayres bought this house 17 years prior from Shawnee State University it had previously been owned by a doctor who had an office in the building, had an apartment upstairs. He died and left the house to Shawnee State, and it was sold at auction. Shawnee State put in a brand new furnace in the house just prior to the sale.  And the Sayres rented the apartment for those 17 years.  And they had only had a total of four or five tenants upstairs during those 17 years. That how long the people lived there.  In fact the City while they owned it passed a code that, “Hey we need to come through and do a quick inspection. The Sayres signed up. City inspector comes through. Walks through the house, does the inspection. But you see the only person that tests gas lines is the gas company. And the gas had never been turned off in all those years. The law doesn’t call for a landlord to call the gas company and do testing. But and fortuitously, what happened in this case, is they were there in June to do just that. The code recognized that dangerous situations can be in place for just a few days or a few hour or a few years. But that’s not an excuse for not doing a full testing. The fact that the house had not been inspected for all these years you could argue “My gosh, Doesn’t it deserve even more attention? But you know, under the standards even hours requires the same. You have to follow the exact protocol that’s set forth and that wasn’t done.  Another thing we had to determine was, “Well when C. J. Hughes left, the house it was in the same condition as when they got there. That’s the whole point of the case. It should not have been. Their job was to find the problems in that house.  And the reason they didn’t find the problems is because they didn’t do – go in the basement, they didn’t check lines, they didn’t check lines they didn’t look for an open valve and they failed to do an inspection  And that’s the point of the code. It’s a proactive requirement not to leave the same house in the same condition as you found it, but to find where the problems are. Ladies and gentlemen the testimony will be that Josh Ake when he got that phone call he should have said, “What’s going on? Did you finish the inspection?” Columbia Gas should have said, “Did you finish the inspection?” Jeffery Ram says, “I told him I was only in the basement for 30 seconds” They were both negligent in this situation.

Another thing we had to determine, is this foreseeable that this kind of failed inspection could cause and result or be a proximate cause of an explosion?  So we asked Jeff Ram. We said,”Do you believe that all gas outlets that don’t connect to an appliance should be capped tight with a cap? “Yeah” “Why” “Because if somebody turned the valve on, it’s going to blow gas” Ladies and gentlemen, that’s foreseeability, right from the mouth of the defendant.  Uncapped gas lines are a leading cause of gas explosions and that’s why the law, the code, the standards are all written to protect against that. The reason these tests are done is because it’s foreseeable that lines become disconnected, appliances are moved, gas lines are cut. Duct tape is used, cord is used or valves leak. That’s — all of that is foreseeable.  And that’s the reason why Ohio requires downstream testing on all lines, and that why it calls for a visual inspection to look for in line valves, and that’s why it calls for an inspection at the end to make sure that it is properly capped.  It’s foreseeable that all kinds of things could be used at the end of that line. That’s why you don’t just go up to a house, pop a pressure test on and say it holds because you know what? You could have a valve two feet inside the wall and you can say, A pressure test, it holds. I’m done.  So it’s so foreseeable that these safety inspectors, guess what, why do they all carry out in their truck? They carry caps with them, And I asked Ram, I said, “How often have you had to put caps on the end of an appliance?” “Just the last two years, five or six times.” That’s how common it is and how foreseeable it is.  And valves, we know that they’re meant to be opened.  And it’s foreseeable that they may get opened. And it’s foreseeable that the valve may get turned, and it’s foreseeable that it leaks. And Ram admits. “Yeah. It’s foreseeable it leaks, that’s why I take my Tiff and put it over the valve.” So it is foreseeable.

And whatever is foreseeable we can guard against, and what’s why these standards do that. Yet the defense may argue it’s not foreseeable.

Another thing we have to determine is what did the landlord know. He didn’t know anything about it.  Everybody admits that he thought his system was safe.  When Columbia Gas had been out there they led him to believe that the system was safe because the gas could be safely turned back on and he had no idea that it was unsafe.

We had to determine well, what happened if Ram goes up and can’t see the line and the answer is simple. Everybody says you turn off the gas and call a plumber if you can’t find it or you can cap it yourself if you wish. You know, in this particular case, these gas corporations are trying to put the blame on the repairman. At the end of this case, you’ll be asked the most important question: What percentage of negligence is there between Columbia Gas, C. J. Hughes, and they’re going to put the repairman in there. And when you do that, your percentage will total 100 percent at the bottom. So in doing that we asked the witness, we asked “Well, what would – did these people do afterwards?”  Well, we know that Jeff Ram did. No communication with anybody. Mr. Snyder: Your Honor. Objection Argumentative THE COURT: Yeah, Just talk about what the evidence is going to show in your opinion

Mr. Shroyer: All right so were going to ask you at the end to, in fact, consider, it’s your prerogative, greater than 90% to Columbia Gas  and C. J. Hughes and less than 10% to the repairman Shawn Ginn.

They’re going to say, well, say we understand we have these responsibilities: Our programs keep you safe.  But they are going to say, “Lets just blame the repairman” even though they are pointing the finger at themselves.

Ladies and gentlemen let’s talk about the damages in this case  At the end  fo the trial, your verdict form will ask you how much money to allow in your verdict in this case. To figure that out, you can take into account only one thing, the level of harms and losses that Columbia Gas and C. J. Hughes cause and nothing else.The defense will agree and Judge Cain will instruct you that that’s the law, harms and losses. Everything else is outside the box. So I need to show you the harms and losses in this case and how severe they were. And you need to know that as a basis for your decision in this case and I’m not showing you these harms and losses to get your sympathy. Sympathy is outside the box. You can feel sympathy, of course, But you can’t let that factor in. So during this trial, you’re going to hear about those harms and losses. In October, the gas flowed into Lisa room while she was asleep She awoke and smelled something she never smelled before, a rotten type smell. Got out of bed after texting the other women. And at this point in time, the ratio between gas and oxygen was in that range that makes it explosive in her room. Anything could have set it off, a light switch, a cell phone even the lighting of a scented candle could cause an explosion.  She got out of bed.  She had her nightgown on. She picked up a lighter and she went over and lit the scented candle. She felt a swoosh and a sound and she instinctively moved her hands up in the air. At that time, that fireball that you saw surrounded her. The fire was intense and engulfed her body. The fire penetrated in heat into her skin and the heat in some places go all the way to the muscle, literally melting away all of her skin structure. You’re going to hear testimony that she had burns over nearly 35 to 40 percent of her body. Millions of skin cells were gone or irretrievable damaged in these few seconds causing second and third degree burns. And you saw the physical structure of the building what happen to it. It was falling around her as the explosion occurred. The roof had blow up. The walls around her were collapsing She sees the cabinets coming down off the walls. She picks herself up on the floor and starts running to try to get out an image that she still has, she  finds the stairs as stuff is coming off the walls and runs down the stairs and gets to the curb. She stumbles on the street curb. People rush up to try to give her help. Soon, an ambulance arrives.  And she remembers that ride, that short ride to Portsmouth Hospital. On her mind at that time is “What Happened? Am  I Okay.“ She thinks of her parents. She arrives at Portsmouth. The records show she is shaking and coughing up black sputum at that moment. The doctor then makes a decision to intubate her to safe her life. That a taking tube, putting it down through the trachea to keep the windpipe open and to breath for her. She was loaded into the ambulance and taken up to the burn clinic here at Ohio State University. They wanted to do a helicopter, but the weather was bad that day and they couldn’t fly. Her parents live in Huber Heights.  Her parents were called. Her dad and mom immediately leave their work and rush to Ohio State University. They arrive there around 12:30. Lisa, at this time has been put into a medical coma they did that because of the intense pain that would be going on.  She’s given 2,000 mics of fentanyl, which is ok to give in that circumstance because she was a vent. They’re doing the breathing for her. They install a cervical collar. Her eyes have been burned. CT scans are ordered. A feeding tube is inserted through her nose. And she went to her first surgery at 5:40 PM  In that surgery her arms had begun swelling. And you’re going to see that her arms were initially white. Dr Bailey would tell you that’s a bad sign. That means third degree burns. Her arms began to swell. They had to do something because if they didn’t, she could lose the nerves, muscles and vascular supply. So they did what’s called a dichotomy. And they slice the arm open. That was he first surgery done by the doctors at Ohio State University. So her father, he is there waiting and waiting all this time before they could come up and finally the doctor said. “You can come in and see Lisa” And the doctor grabs Mr Nouanesengsey and says,  “we need to prepare you, sir.” He goes “ I want to see my daughter” He goes “You don’t understand. She’s not the same”  And he walked in the room and didn’t recognize his daughter. So I’m going to show you those actual records, photographs from the medical record, and you’re going to see in those records that she had burns on her forehead, her nose, her ears, her lips, eyes, temples, neck, chest, left arm, let hand, right hand, left shoulder, right shoulder, her back, her right thigh her left thigh, both of her calves, her feet, her toes. And that after all that, later the donor sites were used she —creating shaving off skin, created more second degree burns on parts-the rest of her body. Dr. Bailey took photographs of these and he will go through these photographs at trial and explain them to you. So I’m going to show them to you now. This was Lisa how her father —a recent photograph of Lisa before this occurred. These photographs were actually taken on day two, the second day at the hospital. And this is Lisa intubated. You can see the scarring on the right side of her face, the burns on her neck. This is the right side of her face. This is the dichotomy procedure that was done on the right hand where they sliced it up to get some more room so that the pressure wouldn’t kill her nerves.

Again you can see the dichotomy along the arm and you can see the whiteness there which is actually a bad sign. That’s her hand. This is her left thigh. You’re going to see later that she needed skin grafts on this left thigh. So things get worse as time goes on in burns. Dr. Bailey will tell you he has to kind of wait to see what’s going to happen. He explains that with burn patients you have to declare themselves to see what presents itself. We asked him and he said that when he tells family members of patients how much pain they’re going through. He says, “Just imagine if you had a significant severe burn the size of a quarter on your arm and you multiply that times 500 quarters” that’s how much pain they’re going through.  This is the other leg and the thigh. This is her right elbow. Now we are at day nine. Dr. Bailey will tell you that what he is doing is kind of waiting to see when they’re going to do skin grafts. You’re going to hear that during this period of time, Lisa is going through burn dressing changes. There’s a special room that they take them into to do that. He’ll tell you how painful they are. What they do is take the dressing that is on the wounds and they peel them off and then they take a scrub brush and they scrub the skin to clean the skin. And then they reapply the dressings. Lisa went through these burn changes for 60 some days in a row. And she will tell you about her experience in that.  They would try to medicate her as best they could. Some days, she would say, “do it slow” some days she would say, “Do it all at once to try to find something to give her relief from the pain she was in.  On the 25th, two days later she had her burn dressing, she was in burn dressing changes for 113 minutes. And I added up the number of hours that she went through in this room with them peeling off dressing, it totals over 60 hours or total time over these two months. The first think that Dr. Bailey did was he stared to identify shortly thereafter all the dead skin that starts to develop and he goes in and he starts peeling that dead skin off. You can see – Actually we have photographs that we will show you from day one where you can start to see some of that issue. It’s called eschon. He’s pulling those off of her fingers and her hands. And then because of  the skin issue he wanted to wait before he did the skin grafts so he puts something called integer over her arms to try to protect. He then installs a wound VAC on her arms to try to suck out and apply pressure and get rid of any seepages that were going on.  So lets —This is that integra that I told you about that was on one of her arms there. This is a hospital photograph showing her neck. You’ll see the scarring over here on the shoulder. That later turns into what call keloid scarring that raises up.  And this is her left thigh again. That’s her leg, all the back of her leg. Now we go to day 16. You’re going to see there’s going, start seeing development of this.  You’ll see significant scarring on her burns on her nose and her lips and both of her temples and pretty much her entire face. And both of her temples and pretty much her entire face.  You’ll see more of that burn on her lips and around her collar. These are burns on the feet. Now they’re starting to present themselves showing more and more. That’s one of her legs.  And this is her back. You see the burn pattern that occurred here. That’s her shoulder. Now we’re at day 23.  At this point Dr. Bailey has done skin grafts to her arm and leg. What he has done is he’s gone in and cut off a layer of skin on the area of her body that he could cut skin off, and that would be her leg and her thighs and her buttocks. So he harvests that and takes a layer and puts it over the wound, and thats called a skin graft.

This is the wound vac that you see on Lisa’s left arm. Now you can start to see some changing patterns to her leg. These are going to require some grafting. Dr. Bailey said what happens in these cases is people go kind of up and down and when you think somebody is stating to get better than you have to do skin grafts and more second degree burns and then retreat back down.  This is just, this is Lisa, how she was for all those days.  This is the back of her calf, showing the injury that was done there. You can see the burn patterns. What happened here you can see it’s for a period of time. Now we are at day 30. This is her thigh you can see dressing there  And this is her calf Or I’m sorry her thigh, the right thigh.

Now, this is at Dodd Hall. So they, she was in the main hospital for about 30 days or so. And then she transferred to Dodd Hall for therapy. And you’ve going to see one of the injuries she’s got is to her fingers. The heat just destroyed the tendons and pigment and she can’t straighten out her fingers. And they’re trying to get her into therapy to see if they can loosen those up as much as possible. Let’s see, hold on a second there (video played of Lisa trembling during hand therapy)

Mr Shroyer: That was with very small movements of her fingers. She developed webbing in her fingers that Dr. Bailey has done repeated surgery on to try to give her as much normal hand moment as possible. Dr. Bailey took her to other surgeries after she go out of Dodd Hall. She developed a hypertrophic scarring and contracture of her joints to her fingers he did an angioplasty of her to try to relieve that. To do that then they had to create more scars by going into her abdomen and cutting out tissue from her abdomen to do her fingers.

July 28, Lisa had another surgery by Dr Bailey. This is now nine months later releasing more grafts in the finger. He harvested more skin from the abdomen to try to get more movement of her fingers he also tried some laser treatment to try to reduce some of the scarring. Dr. Bailey did another surgery then in December more than a year later. She had burns on her left hand and the Dr. did more C pasty and again more skin grafts from the abdomen. After leaving OSU they gave her a body suit to wear with a plastic mask to wear. She had  to wear that to protect her skin from the environment.

 

This negligent that occurred here has had a profound effect, devastating effect on her life She’s scared and disfigured. And is it a physical injury? Yes, of course, but it’s a mental injury because of what she had to go thought and will continue to go though for the rest of her left. And I think when the doctor said she not going to be the same she’s not the same. As a young person of only 22, she sustained the massive injury to nearly 40 percent of her body that cause life long scars. It’s affected her self esteem and how she approaches life every day. She can’t just cover all her scars up and her disfigurement with make up because, you see, the scars are outside as well and inside.

These are the additional skin grafts that had to occur at Dodd Hall on her hands. This is a picture for her left hand. This is all skin graft that’s been put on. That her right hand. Now we go to day 51. This her hand, now we are in present day. Lisa today. This is Lisa. You can see the scarring of her nose her lip. Forehead is discolored And based on the day, it depends how the colors change on her face. This is her right shoulder and that keloid scarring on her back. And you can see the scarring up along the jawline there as well as the cheek, the nose, going down alone the shoulder those of her hands and her arms. That’s a hand, this is her thigh. We have some before photos of Lisa that I can show you. This is her winning an award at Indiana University for women’s soccer. She was a star soccer player at Indiana University four year starter, four year scholarship. That’s Lisa playing for Indiana University And that was her on graduation just a few months before this explosion.

Lisa had youthful young 22 year old skin that’s now been replaced with scars roughness, texture discoloration of her skin. Some places it very light, some places it very dark and she had lack of strength in her hands And it goes all he way up her arm, this disfigurement to anybody that meets her. She loves to talk with her hands and that going to be with her, something that can’t be covered up for he next 60 years. She – Every morning she puts on make up to try to cover her face and actually does a pretty good job with that. It goes on first thing in the morning and when she goes to bed at night she goes to the sink and washes her face and you can see all the makeup running down the drain and revealing the full extent of the scars on her face. You see she’s going to have to endure this because of the actions of the gas companies. But that’s the physical injury part of things. But what about the mental injury. You know the mental injury is important because that’s where we live. It’s up here. That’s where we have feelings, in our mind. That where we feel good about ourselves and not about ourselves. And that’s where we have self esteem. And this  is where Lisa has mental anguish because she gets upset, she cries she becomes emotional, and gets down about life. But she struggles with the fact that she not going to get any better now. See, initially for the first year or two she thought where would be improvement, improvement  And now she knows where is not going to be improvement. Dr. Bailey will tell you this is it.  This is forever.  She will testify that beforehand she would walk down the street and someone would look at her and she’d feel good about herself because they were looking at her. Now if she someone’s looking at her, she thinks they’re looking at her because of her scars, and that hurts her. She says that she feels like crawling in a box when that happens. She has—To her credit , she went back to school a year later, and she’s got her degree in occupational therapy. And she’s got a job at Dayton Children’s Hospital. She works with children there. And she’s explaining the treatment protocol to the parents, she notices the parents are looking at her arms and not her. And in fact, she had an experience when one client who after two months said, “I need to ask you what happened. I’ve been wondering that for two months”

And that what people think. So, do I say something? Do I not say something?   Every single person you meet in life when you’ve got these scars all over. When her children make reference to it— she wears pretty much long sleeves at work to try to hide it because of the children. They look at it, and they go “ Whats that .” And it hard to redirect, finally she just says today, “I was burned” and redirect their attention to something else to get them off the subject. She uses a credit card. She loves using a credit card at the grocery store instead of cash because she doesn’t have to extend her hand. Every day she says to herself, “What am I going to wear today, because if I’m going to be with friends, I’m more comfortable.  And am I going to see people that I don’t know.” And that determines how much she covers up.  She – every time she meets someone she had to wrestle with the issue, ”Do I bring it up? Do I bring it up? Do I tell the story or not?” You see, she feels those scares inside her and its a constant bombardment every day with all these emotional things going on and – because you’re going to be presenting yourself to the public. Mr Snyder Objection Your honor. Argumentative THE COURT: Are you about done, because were past time for a break. We can take a break. MR Shroyer: I have just about three more minutes, maybe four.

She wakes up every morning not knowing how her skin is going to be. Some days it’s more red or discolored that other days. And she can’t help but compare herself to other girls.  She puts on the makeup every day covering the forehead and the lines. She tries to get it on her nose, particularly to cover the shiny skin that is on her nose. And she tries to, when she posts photos to Facebook, she tries to use some of the programs to make her look as good a possible. But she does have some escapes. She can’t bounce a basketball very well, but you know what? She doesn’t need her hands to play soccer. She joined an elite soccer club made up of ex-college athletes to play soccer. Somebody said semi pro, to try to cover some travel expenses but she doesn’t make any money doing that. She did that before. And she actually got back to doing that again. And you’re going to hear her testify that she enjoys running and playing soccer where she can be – there she judged by the goals she makes  and necessary by how she looks. She continues to play soccer today on a coed team. And she tries to stay in the best shape she can by doing that.

Lisa,  several months ago was recently married. She had a lovely wedding. Lisa had some counseling. And she gone through this the best she can, but she trying to figure out how do I deal with the emotions that I have and this —these issues that I have with this. She has been diagnosed with an adjustment disorder, and the doctors have said that’s permanent. She still has occasional nightmares. She remembers all the pain that she went there in those burn units.  Throughout her life, however, Lisa has worked hard to succeed at anything she sets her mind too. She’s approached that long road to recovery with the same determination and courage that she’s exemplified her entire life. And, you know, her Dad is going to testify. She draws some inspiration I believe from her parents.   They were imprisoned in a prison camp in Laos, her parents were. And they escaped.  They saw across a river, came to the United States And her parents have taught them to preserve. Her Dad even had to sell fishing worms to make ends meet. Mr. Popson: Objection Mr. Shroyer: She draws inspiration and strength from her parents, ladies and gentlemen, and she doesn’t want to be a burden to them. So what can you do about it? That is a case about permanent mental anguish, disfigurement and the pain that she has.

Finally we are here for you to decide how much will it take to match the level of the worst harms in this case, the things that cannot be fixed. For example, nothing can make the scars over her entire body disappear or her skin turn normal or make sure fingers work normal again or take away the mental anguish that she’s going to have or return her self esteem. Those are the injuries she is going to have over the next 60 years. So we’re going to show you what can’t be fixed so you can determine how much it takes to match it. We’ll show you how to do the calculations because, yes, you can put a dollar on it. You know, for the rest of her life she’s going to face this every moment, what happened. And this isn’t like a broken leg that heals and then you’re okay. Lisa and her family are great folks. And they have a good fight in them. Every day they make the best of everything And in their quiet way they are heroes, but my job is to show you what’s behind the heroes. By the end of trial, you’ll see why the evidence, the fact, the truths make this kind of case—make this the kind of case in which I have to come back with you at the end and ask you for an amount that you might say to yourself that sounds high, but what you’ll see,  later is proper, It’s a proper one for this kind of case. You’ll see why in this kind of case it the type of case in which I’ll have to ask you for $60 million dollars. Thank you.