Bryan homeowner files lawsuit against energy company for mystery gas in home

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BRYAN, Tex. (KBTX) - The mystery continues on a gas leak at a Bryan home on Austin's Estates Drive.

The homeowner has been displaced for more than a year due to the flammable gas coming inside.

What's exactly happening is still a mystery but now a more than $1 million lawsuit has been filed to seek answers and money for the woman displaced.

On Thursday, a lawsuit against Hawkwood Energy Operating was filed in Brazos County. The company has an energy field and pipeline near the homeowner's property.

KBTX was there in December 2018 when the homeowner, Lenice Morgan, had to evacuate after lingering problems with a mystery gas leak.

The family has been investigating the source of the flammable vapor. The home has no gas connections or propane tank and has all electric utilities.

The attorney for the homeowner believes a now shut down eight-inch pipeline leaked, forcing gas in through the foundation of the home. Hawkwood shut-in that pipeline after the mystery gas was detected.

"We want to bring closure to this. Having my 81-year-old grandmother displaced, removed from her home. You know she was there for so many years and loved everything about it. You know just having to basically you know be kicked off the home," said Becca Akbari, a family member.

The family doesn't know if Morgan will be able to ever return. The suit seeks over $1 million including for economic damages and potential medical bills after being exposed to the gas. The problems first started in the fall of 2018.

"She's had to move four different times," Akbari said.

Davis Watson, an attorney for Hawkwood Energy Operating said Friday they are reviewing the lawsuit and the company has been working with the family since the beginning. Watson said they also want to find the source of the problem.

The family wants answers soon. The suit says that the homeowner spent $6,000 to replace her furnace when they initially tried to diagnose the source of the smell.

"She's been doing ok. She has her ups and downs," said Akbari. "I mean her health, you know, I think this has affected her health and you know it's just, it's hard being displaced and having nowhere to call your home," she said.

The 31-page lawsuit is seeking a jury trial but attorneys tell us there's no timeline yet for when the suit could move forward.

"It’s been a really long process. You know I’m sure that there's a lot of people involved that have the answers. I don't have the answers. I just want the resolution," said Akbari.

The Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates the oil and gas industry told KBTX last January the gas contained refined hydrocarbons and they don't believe it is from nearby oil or gas activity.

Last year, we also had a Texas A&M Chemical Engineering Professor look at sample data after we'd obtained an air quality sample report from the City of Bryan. At the time, the Conroe Fire Department had been at the home to test the substance.

After reviewing the data, Professor James Holste said they were chemicals you'd find in refined products like gasoline and he had no idea why they'd be coming inside a home.