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Family of 11-Year-Old Boy Who Died Amid Texas Blackouts Suing Electrical Grid Operator That Has Sovereign Immunity


The private electric grid operator ERCOT has sovereign immunity, but this is not stopping some Texans from suing them amid the devastating winter blackouts. Case in point, there is the family of 11-year-old Conroe boy Christian Pavon. They said they found him dead on Tuesday after their mobile home was hit with freezing temperatures.

ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas) has been slammed with criticism as planned rolling blackouts lasted way longer than expected, leaving millions of Texans exposed to frigid conditions without power for extended periods of time. Dozens died amid these temperatures.

Power company Entergy is a co-defendant in the Pavon complaint.

“And other suits will come,” family attorney Tony Buzbee told KTRK in a Saturday interview. “These decisions, which led to deaths, were made based on profit, not welfare of people. People died. ERCOT and the electrical providers like Entergy must account.”

In the complaint, Pavon’s family seeks more than $100 million plus court costs.

They have said that the home lost power on Sunday, according to KHOU. Video showed Christian played in snow for the first and last time ever on Monday. His stepfather said he checked in him early Tuesday.

“It was like 2 a.m. when my brother-in-law woke up to use the restroom and made sure he even put another blanket on them,” Christian’s aunt Jaliza Yera said.

She said her nephew had had a shirt, sweater, two pairs of pants, and socks when he had first gone to sleep.

The family made the tragic discovery that afternoon. It was not unusual for Christian to sleep in when he was off from school. They tried to wake him up.

Recorded temperatures in Conroe on those days ran from 32 – 14 Fahrenheit  on Sunday, 20 – 9 Fahrenheit on Monday, and 33 – 31 Fahrenheit on Tuesday.

Pavon’s autopsy is pending, but the family suggests that the child, who had no medical conditions, died of hypothermia. A GoFundMe to return his body to Honduras has raised $84,479 of a $5,000 goal as of Sunday.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of life in our community,” Entergy said in a statement obtained by KHOU. They otherwise declined to comment, citing pending litigation.

ERCOT voiced sympathy for Texans suffering in recent days, but otherwise referenced their stance that their response to the cold snap was appropriate.

“We haven’t yet reviewed the lawsuits and will respond accordingly once we do,” they said. “Our thoughts are with all Texans who have and are suffering due to this past week. However, because approximately 46% of privately-owned generation tripped offline this past Monday morning, we are confident that our grid operators made the right choice to avoid a statewide blackout.”

Their officials have said grid operators chose to cut power on Monday as plants tripped offline due to the cold. They maintained this decision saved the infrastructure from months of uncontrolled blackouts.

Texas’ power grid has been subject to intense nationwide scrutiny in recent days, with officials facing criticism that they failed to winterize the grid. Such an argument at the core of a complaint by Texas man Donald McCarley. Texas had seen similar weather in recent decades dating back to 1989, the complaint stated. ERCOT and power companies should have been prepared for that happened this month.

It is unclear if such complaints can even build up steam. ERCOT currently has sovereign immunity, though the Texas Supreme Court is supposed to be reviewing that as part of an unrelated lawsuit.

[Screengrab via the family of Christian Pavon, and KHOU]

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