JJs lawsuits claim gas line was not marked

The smoke from the JJs fire about an hour after the building exploded.

An unmarked underground gas line caused drillers to rupture that line and led to the explosion at JJ’s restaurant, a drilling crew foreman said in a lawsuit last week.

Michael Tanner, Heartland Midwest LLC foreman, and his wife filed the lawsuit in Jackson County Circuit Court.

It seeks actual and punitive damages against USIC Locating Services and Missouri Gas Energy, which it contends should have turned off the gas and evacuated the area.

Tanner’s team reasonably concluded they were drilling properly to avoid two marked pipes at a depth of 37 inches, the lawsuit states.

“Unfortunately,” it states, “a third pipe – a natural gas distribution line – was 37 inches and was ruptured by the excavating machine, leading to the gas release and explosion.”

The restaurant blew up and caught fire after gas collected there and was likely ignited by a pilot light, officials said.

One employee was killed and many people were injured.

Tanner suffered burns on 20 percent of his body, broken bones and cuts and was trapped in rubble “for some time,” the lawsuit states.

His medical bills are already more than $1 million and he will suffer partial or complete disability, it states.

Another lawsuit was filed last month by six former JJ employees.

Defendants in that lawsuit are Heartland Midwest, USIC Locating System, Missouri Gas Energy, Time Warner Cable and Missouri One Call System.

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