By Kevin Deutsch
A class-action lawsuit was filed this week on behalf of Coral Springs businesses impacted by the May 13 gas line rupture that left at least 120 customers without gas.
The lawsuit is being led by The Cook and The Cork, which represents the other restaurants and retail businesses that “suffered extensive economic damages” due to the gas outage, according to the civil court complaint filed in Broward County.
According to the lawsuit, the gas line rupture was caused by negligence on the part of Acosta Tractors, a company based in Hialeah Gardens.
The company used a type of directional drilling that ruptured the 6-inch gas line on Wiles Road “while blindly drilling underground, without carrying out proper and requisite soft digging” and other safe practices “to ensure the exact physical location of the gas line.”
According to the city, the ruptured gas line feeds University Drive from Wiles Road to Southgate Boulevard and over to Coral Springs Drive. The accident caused severe damage on Wiles Road, and the gas line was shut off so crews could make repairs.
The outage left at least 120 customers, primarily businesses, without gas service during the busy restaurant dinner rush. Some businesses were still without gas the following day.
According to the lawsuit, Acosta Tractors accidentally hit the same gas line two other times, first on Nov 15, 2021, and again on Jan 27, 2022. The suit alleges that the company should have known their drilling tactics were insufficient to avoid accidents like the one that caused the May rupture and gas outage.
Local eateries, including The Cook & the Cork, Wings Plus, and Tavolino Della Notte, were among the restaurants unable to serve the typical number of customers during the outage. Without gas, chefs turned to mobile catering stations and other alternatives to serve hungry customers but lost significant revenue in the process.
The suit, filed by attorneys Adam Moskowitz and William Scherer, seeks a jury trial and unspecified damages in excess of $30,000.
According to Acosta Tractors’ LinkedIn page, the company was founded in 1973 and is family-owned and operated.
“Over the years, ATI has become one of South Florida’s leading engineering contracting firms offering full underground utility installation, complete roadway construction, and site development to owners and developers,” the page reads.
“In over four decades of performing work in both the public and private sectors, [Acosta Tractors] has gained an invaluable wealth of knowledge and expertise by being involved in countless projects of different sizes, scopes, and complexity.”
A message left with Acosta Tractors about the lawsuit Monday was not immediately returned.
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- Kevin Deutsch is an award-winning crime journalist and author. A graduate of Florida International University, Kevin has worked on staff at The Miami Herald, New York Daily News, and The Palm Beach Post.