A lawsuit filed in California seeks damages against Southern California Gas Company on the basis that a methane leak hastened the death of an elderly woman who was suffering from lung cancer. Her family claims that she was active, despite being diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer 3 months prior to her death. She lived about 3 miles away from the source of the methane leak, which occurred at the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage field.
Before her death, the woman suffered from difficulty breathing and severe headaches. She required oxygen 24 hours a day. According to the complaint, her decline was caused by methane, the harmful ingredient found in natural gas. The woman lived in the Porter Ranch community, where thousands of residents have been relocated as a result of the natural gas leak. More than 20 claims have been filed against the gas company over the gas leak, and the city, county, air quality regulators and the state of California have also filed claims. County prosecutors have filed criminal charges.
A wrongful death lawsuit can be filed by the immediate family members of a person who has died as a result of the negligence of another party. The damages that can be sought in such an action are delineated in the applicable state statute, and often include funeral and burial expenses as well as other losses.
A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil action, and thus it still can be maintained even if no criminal charges have been filed in the matter, as the burden of proof in a civil lawsuit is less stringent than that required in a criminal proceeding. An attorney can outline the procedures that are involved in bringing such an action.