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Gas blast kills man in mobile home park owned by Illinois firm

When an accident causes a serious injury or death in Chicago, police concentrate on whether a crime has been committed. Investigations are closed, if no foul play is found. Law enforcers find or eliminate wrongdoing, but criminal and civil cases are different.

Residents of a Northeast mobile home park, owned by an Illinois company, have been shaken since a recent accident. The owners used a single liquid propane system to supply all residents with the gas. Now, some residents have opted to disconnect from the system and purchase propane separately.

One of the mobile homes blew up in mid-February and killed the 65-year-old owner. Police know the man died of blunt force trauma injuries. Authorities also learned the blast was caused by a propane gas leak, but stopped the investigation before finding out the exact cause.

State police determined the death was an accident. For law enforcement, the case is resolved but not for the victim's son. A separate investigation is underway to find out exactly how the victim died and what triggered the explosion. The probe could be used to support a wrongful death claim.

The son's attorney said the goal of the independent investigation is to find out whether the blast was caused by avoidable neglect or reckless behavior. The answer may be found by tracing the reason for the fatal mobile home blast. State police stated there were too many possibilities to consider narrowing the cause down to one reason.

Defendants in product liability cases don't have to be criminals to be guilty of safety negligence. Juries look for proof that a manufacturer, or some other party in the chain between design and sales, put a dangerous product in the hands of Cook County consumers. An injured plaintiff may be awarded compensation, including punitive or punishing damages, to deter a defendant and others like them from repeating unsafe manufacturing practices.

Source: The Express-Times, "Fatal Moore Township home explosion caused by propane leak, was accidental, state police say" Sarah M. Wojcik, Feb. 24, 2014

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