Houston Matters

British Reporter Sues CenterPoint over Electrocution Suffered during Harvey Aftermath

The lawsuit contends Alan Butterfield wouldn’t have been injured if the company had implemented a reasonable action plan

Almost a year after Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, accidents that happened during the aftermath of the storm are generating litigation.

Back in May, Houston Public Media reported on a lawsuit filed by the family of Andrew Pasek. The young man was walking through a flooded street on his way to rescue his sister’s cat and was killed by an electric current in the water.

CenterPoint is one of the defendants in the lawsuit filed by Pasek’s family and, as Houston Matters reported Monday, a British reporter has also sued the energy company because he suffered an electrocution from which he hasn’t fully recovered yet, according to his lawyers.

A news release from the law firm of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz said it filed the lawsuit on behalf of Alan Butterfield, who was reporting on the devastation caused by Harvey and boarded a boat with volunteers who were searching for survivors on August 28.

This file photo shows a flooding caused by Harvey in the Houston area. A British reporter who suffered an electrocution during the storm’s aftermath has filed a lawsuit against CenterPoint Energy.

The lawsuit contends that, during one of the searches, the boat approached what the crew feared was downed power lines that were still live. The water currents drew the boat toward the powerlines and several crew members, including Mr. Butterfield, were electrocuted.

Mr. Butterfield held onto a tree for almost 24 hours before being rescued, also according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit contends that Butterfield wouldn’t have been injured if CenterPoint had implemented a reasonable action plan during Harvey’s aftermath and that the company knew or should have known that active power lines posed a high degree of danger given that there had already been historic levels of flooding in the prior 24 hours.

The lawsuit claims that if CenterPoint had shut off power to the flooded electrical lines, Butterfield’s electrocution would have been prevented.

The reporter’s lawsuit aims to get compensation from CenterPoint but, as attorney Mo Aziz told Houston Matters, also “some change in policy” from the company to be more proactive about its plans for situations like the one in which the accident occurred.

CenterPoint didn’t respond to a request for comment submitted by Houston Public Media.