Homeowners settle lawsuit over explosion

Thursday, May 28, 2015 3:07 PM
Butch Knowlton, director of La Plata County’s Office of Emergency Management, walks past the remains of Tim and Karen Kelleys home, which exploded Feb. 21, 2012, at 6541 County Road 243, north of Lemon Reservoir.
Emergency medical personnel load Tim Kelley into a medical helicopter Feb. 2012, 2012, after freeing him and his wife, Karen, from the rubble of their home that was destroyed by a propane explosion on County Road 243, north of Lemon Reservoir.
Tippi was found 17 days after an explosion destroyed the Tim and Karen Kelley’s home north of Lemon Reservoir. The 4-year-old cat is held by veterinarian Stacee Santi at Riverview Animal Hospital.
Cindi Shank, executive director of the Southwest Colorado Chapter of the American Red Cross, watches as 9-year-old Cameron Kelley plays with her dog, Rocko. Rocko was rescued by family friends John Glover, left, Ryan Barthel and Joey Thompson, after her family’s home was destroyed by a propane explosion Feb. 21, 2012. Barthel and Thompson were awarded the animal lifesaver award by the Red Cross. Kelley was awarded the youth lifesaver award.

Karen and Timothy Kelley, whose house near Lemon Reservoir exploded Feb. 21, 2012, have settled a lawsuit they filed against Amerigas Propane, Mesa Propane and Creative Plumbing and Heating.

The case was settled on April 20, before the lawsuit was set to go to a jury. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

The original lawsuit, filed in February 2013, stated that medical costs for Timothy Kelley’s injuries would cost more than $531,000, while his wife’s would cost more than $357,000. Their daughter’s medical expenses would cost more than $29,000.

The lawsuit stated they all suffered pain, suffering and mental anguish, among other claims.

The explosion occurred because of propane leaking from the exterior of the house, the original lawsuit stated. The Kelleys lived near County Road 243. The leak was caused by pressure applied to a gas regulator by a snow shield that Creative Plumbing and Heating installed for Amerigas in 2010, according to the lawsuit. It was one of about 5,000 to 6,000 shields Creative was contracted to install around the area.

Amerigas provided propane service to the Kelleys from December 2007 until November 2011. Mesa Propane provided the service from November 2011 until the explosion in 2012.

Creative Plumbing was negligent in installing the snow shield, Amerigas was negligent in inspecting the snowshield, and Mesa was negligent in the inspections and by not providing warnings to the Kelleys, the lawsuit stated.

The lawsuit stated Tim Kelley suffered numerous injuries, including first-degree burns to his face and hands, knee injuries, a spinal injury, and head and brain injuries.

Karen Kelley had burns on both of her legs and left hand, a laceration on her left ear, skin grafts, and head and brain injuries.

Their daughter had a fractured leg, burns to her forehead, singed hair and other bruises.

The Kelleys did not respond to calls seeking comment on the settlement, nor did their attorney.

A spokeswoman for Amerigas and an attorney for Mesa Propane did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Creative Plumbing and Heating has closed its location in Bayfield, and its trade name with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office has expired, according to the agency’s website.