domnicky/iStockBy BILL HUTCHINSON, ABC News(HOUSTON) — Texas power providers Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) and Entergy Corporation have been hit with a $100 million lawsuit accusing them of gross negligence in the death of a child whose family suspects he suffered hypothermia when they lost electricity and heat in their mobile home during a historic cold snap.The mother of 11-year-old Cristian Pineda filed the wrongful death lawsuit in Jefferson County District Court, alleging the utility giants “put profits over the welfare of people” by ignoring previous recommendations to winterize its power grid, which sustained an epic failure last week and left more than four million customers without heat and electricity as temperatures in some parts of the state plunged to single digits.“Despite having knowledge of the dire weather forecast for at least a week in advance, and the knowledge that the system was not prepared for more than a decade, ERCOT and Entergy failed to take any preemptory action that could have averted the crisis and were wholly unprepared to deal with the crisis at hand,” the lawsuit states.Cristian died on Tuesday in his family’s mobile home in the Houston suburb of Conroe while sharing a bed with his 3-year-old brother under a pile of blankets in an attempt to stay warm, according to the lawsuit.“This is a young man who died for no reason other than corporate decisions,” the Pineda family attorney Tony Buzbee told ABC News on Sunday. “There are a lot of decisions that were made a long time ago that led to the death of this young man. That is unacceptable.”As of Sunday, more than 30 people had died in Texas in the past week due to the severe weather, including many from carbon monoxide poisoning after people used cars or generators to keep warm during the massive power outage, according to state officials.Buzbee said he now represents seven families who lost loved ones as a result of the severe weather and said more lawsuits will be filed against the power companies.“Cristian’s lawsuit is the first and his lawsuit should be the first,” Buzbee said. “This kid is going to change Texas and God bless him for that.”The sixth grader, who migrated to the United States two years ago with his family, was a healthy boy who on the day before his death was playing in the snow for the first time in his life, his mother, Maria Pineda, told the Houston Chronicle.Maria Pineda found her son unresponsive the next day and called 911 while attempting CPR, according to the lawsuit.While the Pineda family contends the child froze to death, the official cause of death is pending the results of an autopsy, according to the Conroe Police Department.Entergy — which delivers electricity to customers in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi — released a statement to ABC station KTRK-TV in Houston saying, “We are deeply saddened by the loss of life in our community. We are unable to comment due to pending litigation.”ERCOT, which manages the electric grid for more than 25 million customers, said in a statement that it had not yet reviewed the lawsuit but “will respond accordingly once we do.”“Our thoughts are with all Texans who have and are suffering due to this past week,” ERCOT statement continued.ERCOT officials said it initiated emergency rolling blackouts on Feb. 15 after a snowstorm blanketed much of Texas and sent temperatures falling to sub-freezing levels. The agency said it took drastic action to avoid a catastrophic statewide blackout.“Because approximately 46% of privately owned generation tripped offline this past Monday morning, we are confident that our grid operators made the right choice to avoid a statewide blackout,” ERCOT said in its statement.But the lawsuit — filed on behalf of Maria Pineda and the estate of Cristian Pineda by attorney Anthony Buzbee — contends that power was turned off for “those who were most vulnerable to the cold.”“Hence, there were images of empty downtown Houston office buildings with power, but the Pineda’s mobile home park was left without power,” the lawsuit reads.The lawsuit blamed ERCOT for misleading customers by assuring them the rolling blackouts would be temporary.“The blackouts instead lasted days. The failure to adequately inform Plaintiffs of the length of the blackouts prevented them from properly preparing for the lack of power, or leaving the area. Accurate information might have saved Cristian Pineda’s young life,” the lawsuit alleged.The Pinedas were without power and heat for two days and during that time temperatures plummeted to as low as 10 degrees in their area, the lawsuit states.Instead of informing customers, like the Pinedas, that the rolling blackouts would be prolonged, ERCOT sent out messages on social media for customers not to do laundry on Valentine’s Day and to “unplug the fancy new appliances you bought during the pandemic and only used once,” according to the lawsuit, which included an image of ERCOT’s Valentine’s Day social media post.The lawsuit also noted that following a severe winter storm in 2011, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation issued a report informing ERCOT that “additional winterizing of the power infrastructure in Texas was necessary.”A large number of units that tripped offline or could not start during the 2011 storm demonstrated that “the generators did not adequately anticipate the full impact of the extended cold weather and high winds,” according to the report cited in the lawsuit.Because the ERCOT system does not cross state lines, the agency is not subject to federal regulation or oversight, according to the lawsuit.The recommendations were voluntary at the time, but will become mandatory at the end of next year. In an interview last week with KTRK, an ERCOT official seemed to suggest that at least some of the recommendations were followed.“In 2018 it was similarly cold, similarly windy, and we had very few generating plants offline,” ERCOT’s senior director of operations Dan Woodfin told KTRK. “It appeared that those best practices and what the generators were doing in that regard was working.”“Rather than invest in infrastructure to prepare for the known winter storms that would most certainly come and potentially leave people vulnerable without power, the providers instead chose to put profits over the welfare of people, and ERCOT allowed them to do so,” the lawsuit states.Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.
A Downing Street spokesperson said: The Prime Minister held a bilateral meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Downing Street earlier today. They discussed Iran, where the Prime Minister reiterated our firm commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) as the best way of preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. They agreed on the need to counter Iran’s destabilising activity in the region, including in Syria, and Iran’s proliferation of ballistic missiles. On Syria, they agreed on the importance of seeing the conflict and deep humanitarian suffering brought to an end, and of preserving stability in other countries in the region. The Prime Minister told Prime Minister Netanyahu that she was deeply concerned by recent rocket attacks from Gaza and, as a friend of Israel, reiterated the UK’s support for Israel’s right to self-defence. She said the Palestinians had a right to protest but it was important that these protests be peaceful. She said there was, however, concern about the scale of casualties in Gaza in recent weeks, and around Israel’s use of live fire. The Prime Minister noted the importance of seeing the situation in Gaza swiftly alleviated and parties moving back towards direct negotiations for a two-state solution.
443 Queen Street, chalked up more off the plan sales than any other apartment project in the past quarter.BRISBANE’S unit market rebounded in the past quarter with almost $214 million worth of new and off-the-plan apartments changing hands.New figures reveal sales levels were up on the previous quarter by 6 per cent to 288 unconditional sales during the June quarter.Despite the slight uplift the latest Place Advisory report said conditions were still challenging.Report author Lachlan Walker said sales were still 61 per cent lower than the same time 12 months ago.While transaction numbers were down sales prices were up with the weighted average sale price now at $744,097 – 27 per cent higher than a year ago.Within the inner Brisbane apartment market there were 69 projects being sold off the plan in the past quarter.Mr Walker said the higher sale price was indicative of the type of stock being sold at the moment.The biggest seller during the quarter was the project, 443 Queen, in the Brisbane CBD which chalked up 48 unconditional sales.Close behind was Brisbane Tower 1, at South Brisbane which had 47 unconditional sales.Paul Barratt of CBRE which is marketing 443 Queen Street, said the owner occupier market particularly in the $700,000 to $1 million price range was exceptionally strong.“We sold 48 apartments at 443 Queen Street over the previous quarter, at an average sale price of over $1.4 million and ranging up to $3 million,’’ he said.“Not only is it the first CBD riverfront project in over 14 years, but there are no comparable sites available for future development.’’More from newsMould, age, not enough to stop 17 bidders fighting for this home1 hour agoBuyers ‘crazy’ not to take govt freebies, says 28-yr-old investor1 hour agoThe Hudson at Albion recorded 27 sales during the quarter.Mr Walker said within the Brisbane inner city market two-bedroom apartments were the most popular with buyers accounting for half of the off the plan sales during the June quarter.One-bedroom apartments chalked up 38 per cent of the transactions, while three-bedroom apartments accounted for eight per cent of the unit sales in the June quarter and four-bedders, penthouses and sub-penthouses chalked up 3.5 per cent of sales.Unit developments south of the river were the most in demand with 114 of the unconditional sales.Mr Walker said based on current levels of supply and sales rates there was 23 months worth of stock in the market.He said the whole unit market had changed in the past year and he thought this level of sale was the new normal level.“There was a slight lift in sales, in think it (the current level of sales) is more of a return to normal levels. looking over the past ten years it is still below average.’’Mr Walker said the type of sales recorded during there quarter were reflective of what had been happening in the unit market in the past 12 months, it was moving more toward an owner occupier stock.He said it was a “better quality product’’ that was selling.“I think we will be in this sort of space, we have been in for the past six months for probably another twelve months, I think we will be going through a period of absorbing stock that is currently in the market place.’’