Disabled Boy's Family Sues Texas Utility - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

01/11/07 - Robstown, Texas

Disabled Boy's Family Sues Texas Utility

The parents of a 3-year-old boy who relies on a ventilator sued the city of Robstown's utility, saying it jeopardized their son's life by wrongfully turning off power to their home.

Frank and Ashley Tijerina say their son, Isaac, was born with his organs outside his body and requires several machines to live. They said the boy started gagging and gasping when the electricity was shut off for about 8 minutes on Jan. 4.

They worked in the dark to install a backup power source to keep the ventilator working, said Frank Tijerina, 20.

"It was like the company came to my house, put their hands around my son and choked him," he said. "My son shouldn't have gone through that."

The Tijerinas asked for unspecified damages in the lawsuit filed Tuesday.

Ray Martinez, an attorney for city-owned Robstown Utilities, said Wednesday he hadn't yet seen the lawsuit and couldn't comment.

The day before the power was disconnected, Frank Tijerina said he paid $605 to cancel the balance on their electricity bill. Tijerina covered the full balance in two payments made Jan. 3, the last just minutes before city offices closed.

Roland Ramos, director of finance for the city, said a record of the last payment might not have been filed in time to stop interruption of services.

A document on file with the utility shows the Tijerina household has special needs, said Roy Gutierrez, superintendent of utilities for the city.

"It could have been a mistake, I don't know," Gutierrez said Tuesday. "We're all subject to making mistakes because we have a lot of different personnel involved."

Story courtesy of the Associated Press.

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