Time Warner Cable Must Pay $5.9M in Restaurant Suit

Time Warner Cable must pay two Kansas City restaurateurs nearly $6 million in damages stemming from a 2013 explosion at a restaurant that left one worker dead and more than a dozen injured, according to AP.

The blast occurred in February 2013 and was caused after Heartland Midwest, an independent contractor hired by Time Warner Cable to install fiber optic cable, inadvertantly struck an underground gas line which later caught fire and created an explosion that destroyed JJ’s Restaurant, killing one of its employees, Megan Cramer. About 15 other people around the scene were injured. According to reports at the time, the explosion also damaged two adjoining buildings.

Heartland was installing fiber in an office building next to the restaurant and after notifying the local gas company that it intended to use boring equipment in the area, apparently ruptured a gas line with an underground boring tool. Gas from the line filled the restaurant and ignited, causing the explosion.

Missouri Gas Energy, the local utility, and Heartland were dismissed from the suit before the case went to trial in July. According to a report in the Kansas City Star, that usually means a settlement was reached, but that could not be confirmed.

According to AP, the restaurant’s operators – brothers David and Jimmy Frantze – had sued in Jackson County Court for more than $9 million in damages. Also named in the suit was USIC Locating Services, which contracts with utility companies and was responsible for marking where the underground lines were located outside of the restaurant. According to AP, the jury did not find USIC liable for any damages.

But after about two days of deliberations, jurors determined that Time Warner Cable was 98% liable for the explosion (JJ's was liable for 2%) and ordered it to pay $5.9 million.

"We know no court decision can undo this tragedy,” Time Warner Cable said in a statement. “We’ll take some time to review the court’s decision before deciding our next step in this case."