CPS Energy named in two more wrongful death lawsuits

Other power companies named as co-defendants in both suits

CPS Energy headquarters downtown. (Joshua Saunders, KSAT)

SAN ANTONIO – Two more San Antonio families have filed lawsuits against CPS Energy, claiming poor preparation from the utility ahead of February’s winter storm contributed to the deaths of their loved ones.

While two previous wrongful death lawsuits filed by San Antonio families last month listed CPS as the sole defendants in each case, the most recent two lawsuits have named other power companies as co-defendants, Bexar County court records show.

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In a lawsuit filed March 19, a San Antonio man said his mother passed away in February after several days of power outages at her home kept her from using an electric-powered oxygen machine.

After an emergency backup oxygen tank ran out, the woman’s physical condition deteriorated, and she died Feb. 21, the suit states.

The petition claims CPS Energy and seven power companies could have increased electric production in the days and weeks before the storm and chose not to and also failed to properly weatherize their energy infrastructure.

ERCOT board meeting included joke about cowboy boots, less than 40 seconds of storm talk

In a separate lawsuit filed March 23 against CPS Energy, seven other power companies and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) -- the agency that operates the state’s electric grid -- the family of a San Antonio man said he died after his oxygen machine became inoperable due to a power outage.

The family of Manuel Riojas said health care providers contacted after the machine stopped working Feb. 15 were unable to reach Riojas’ home because of hazardous weather and icy roads, and he died a day later, the suit states.

The filing includes the same claim that CPS Energy and the power companies could have increased electric production in the days and weeks before the storm and chose not to and that they failed to properly weatherize their energy infrastructure.

The suit also claims that ERCOT failed to properly estimate how much power would be required for the 2021 winter season in Texas.

Millions of Texans were without power for days during the storm in February after energy demand outpaced supply and ERCOT forced energy providers to institute rolling blackouts around the state.

The death toll from the storm surpassed 100 last month and is expected to increase even more as figures continue to be added.

A CPS Energy spokeswoman on Thursday said the utility does not comment on active litigation.

Gold-Williams and an attorney hired by CPS commented on active litigation for well over half an hour March 12, after CPS officials announced that it had sued ERCOT in Bexar County.

About the Author

Emmy-award winning reporter Dillon Collier joined KSAT Investigates in September 2016. Dillon's investigative stories air weeknights on the Nightbeat and on the Six O'Clock News. Dillon is a two-time Houston Press Club Journalist of the Year and a Texas Associated Press Broadcasters Reporter of the Year.

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