Family settles with NOCO over deadly home explosion

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WILSON, N.Y. (WIVB) – The law firm representing the Johnson family, who lost their 14-year-old daughter Sarah when their Wilson home exploded, reports a settlement has been reached in a lawsuit against NOCO.

Duke Holzman, Photiadis & Gresens, LLP says the settlement was reached out of court and is confidential. The law firm had no further comment.

PHOTO GALLERY | The explosion was massive, demolishing the home in a single blast and sending members of the family flying. But the response to the explosion was also enormous, with a community coming together to support the Johnsons

The day before the explosion on July, 24, 2012, the Johnson family smelled something they thought was propane gas, so they shut off the valve to a large NOCO tank behind their home and opened the windows.

The mother, Judy Johnson, called NOCO and spoke to a technical service representative who, according to the family’s lawsuit, gave them a false sense of security saying “that the smell in the home was an odorant added to the gas and not actually propane gas and the reason the were smelling it was because the NOCO tank was almost empty and the odorant becomes stronger. NOCO also advised that it was not able to refill its near empty tank because the billing office was closed.”

The father, Jody Johnson, didn’t want to wait, and that evening he disconnected the copper line from the NOCO tank and hooked it up to a smaller, 100-pound tank that he owned, so the family could take showers and use the stove. At 6 o’clock the next morning, the house exploded.

The family’s attorneys claim NOCO was negligent by not coming to check out the smell the day before.

Back in October 2012, attorney Matthew Beck said, “Had they responded correctly, Sarah Johnson would be with us today. Four members of the Johnson family would not have been seriously injured.”

NOCO did not respond publicly to the lawsuit filed by the Johnson family, but in the past had told News 4 that the NOCO tank was not empty yet, and NOCO never advises people to disconnect tanks themselves.

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