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Attorneys Joseph Kalbac, Jr. and Denise Georges from the Florida firm Colson Hicks Eidson have been involved in a case revolving around the gas explosion that injured 23 people at a Plantation shopping center on July 5, 2019, known as University on Market. This incident resulted in numerous premises liability lawsuits filed in Broward County, and rightfully so.
While it has been determined that the explosion originated in an abandoned and vacant pizza restaurant, attorneys have had to piece together what happened. By using drones and dashcam footage, eyewitness statements, and a cause-and-origin report from Florida’s Bureau of Fire and Arson and Explosives Investigations, attorneys found that a gas valve had been turned on in the vacant pizza restaurant on the date of the blast. Following hours of gas filling the restaurant, the air conditioning system turned on which triggered the massive explosion. The explosion resulted in catastrophic property damage, including large pieces of debris to fill the surrounding area.
The pizza restaurant had gone out of business seven months earlier, but there was no cap placed on the gas pipe inside the building, and the valve behind the building was not locked.
Colson Hicks Eidson is one of 14 South Florida law firms to file lawsuits on behalf of victims injured in the explosion.
Attorneys in this case argue that, along with other compensatory damages, punitive damages should also be awarded due to the gross negligence displayed by the defendants. The gas cap would have cost approximately $2. Instead, their negligence allowed an entire building to explode. Worse, a children’s learning center next door to the explosion just happened to be closed on the day of the explosion due to it being a holiday weekend. Had the learning center been open, there would almost certainly have been extensive loss of life.
Defendants in this case include Locust Gardens (E&A) LLC, property manager Edens Limited Partnership, utility providers Peoples Gas System, Tampa Electric Co., and Best Buy Auctioneers.com Inc.
Colson Hicks Eidson represents Matthew Seese, then age 30, who was closest to the area when it exploded as he walked from the gym to his car. Seese suffered major damage to his right upper arm and right leg requiring a tourniquet to be placed on the scene followed by extensive medical treatment.