Appeals Court Rules Winter Storm Uri Cases Can Move Forward Against Transmission and Distribution Utilities

Unanimous ruling allows gross negligence, intentional misconduct claims to proceed to trial 

DALLAS – A three-judge panel of the Texas 14th Court of Appeals in Houston has unanimously ruled that Winter Storm Uri-related lawsuits against Texas electric transmission and distribution utilities (TDUs) can move forward to trial.

The panel’s ruling specifically allows allegations of gross negligence and intentional misconduct to proceed against defendants, including CenterPoint Energy, Oncor Electric Delivery and American Electric Power, which are described in the lawsuits as the businesses providing power via wires connected to the affected homes.

“There is no denying the deliberate actions and blatant disregard for the TDU’s own customers,” said Nachawati Law Group lawyer Ann Saucer, who represents homeowners and families impacted by the blackout. “It was a conscious decision to cut off power to certain neighborhoods and several people lost their lives as a result. These companies were warned, and they chose not to act.”

The ruling cites specific allegations made by plaintiffs lawyers, including that the TDUs refused to follow any plan for load shedding and instead flipped switches without foresight or concern and decided to rotate outages and cut power to certain areas.

The 14th Court’s decision does not reference a December 2023 ruling by the 1st Court of Appeals, which dismissed wrongful death, personal injury and property damage claims against wholesale power generators, such as Luminant, NRG, Exelon and Sempra Energy Resources. In 2023, the Texas Supreme Court found that ERCOT, the nonprofit corporation operating the state’s electrical grid, qualified for sovereign immunity from litigation.

“It has been an uphill battle and continues to be an uphill battle,” said firm founder Majed Nachawati. “We will not stop until justice is secured for the thousands of families who have suffered at the hands of corrupt politics and greed.”

Winter Storm Uri brought near-zero-degree temperatures and freezing rain to Texas in February 2021. More than nine million people were left without electricity, and more than 200 deaths are connected to the blackouts, according to the plaintiffs lawyers.

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Nachawati Law Group represents individuals in mass tort litigation, businesses and governmental entities in contingent litigation and individual victims in complex personal injury litigation.

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Media Contact: 
Alyssa Woulfe

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