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Lawsuit filed over Alice man's freezing death

Lawsuit filed over Alice man's freezing death
Posted at 10:07 PM, Mar 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-03 23:19:38-05

ALICE, Texas — February's Arctic blast claimed a number of lives across the state including the death of a man inside his home just outside of Alice.

In a lawsuit filed on Friday, Melissa Villanueva says her live-in boyfriend Abelino Guzman was struggling to breathe and his skin was turning purple on February 16.

Their home was without power like millions of others across the state.

The lawsuit states that the temperature inside was "approximately 32 degrees."

"It is a very, very difficult thing to see your loved one freezing to death and have nothing you can do about it,” an attorney for Guzman's family, Patrick Luff, said.

Guzman was taken to the hospital, but doctors could not revive him.

The lawsuit blames ERCOT -- the operator of Texas's electrical grid -- power company AEP, and its subsidiary AEP Texas for Guzman's death.

Luff says dozens of deaths like Guzman's could have been avoided if those entities would have taken preventative steps like winterizing power plants.

"We knew going back decades exactly what needed to happen," he said. "And the energy companies didn’t take these simple and affordable steps to prevent this from happening."

Luff hopes the lawsuit leads to a jury awarding Villanueva and other members of Guzman's family money for their suffering.

He stopped short of declaring a dollar amount, but he wants it to be a figure high enough to prompt changes at ERCOT and AEP.

“(Guzman's family members) want something to happen so that this will never happen to another family again," Luff said. "And that’s what I always hope for too."