South Jersey Couple Burned in Home Blast Gets Nearly $2M Settlement

About a year and a half after an explosion leveled a South Jersey home, a nearly $2-million settlement that compensates a couple severely burned has been reached.

Blast vicitms James and Evelyn McCarty reached the settlement with a contractor and a fuel company, Bob Zausner, spokesman for Philadelphia law firm Kline and Specter, said Monday.

The McCarty's filed suit in December 2013 in Cape May County against contractor, Shore Guys Heating and Air Conditioning, LLC, and South Jersey Fuel & Propane claiming that employees failed to remove the propane tank from their Villas, New Jersey property months before the explosion.

The November 2013 blast leveled the McCarty's home along the 200 block of E Atlantic Avenue. The explosion was so strong, it was felt more than a mile away.

The couple, both 67 at the time, were inside the home when the gas ignited and suffered critical injuries in the explosion -- McCarty suffered severe burns while his wife suffered two broken legs and severe burns.

Shore guys agreed to pay $1.625 million while SJF&P agreed to a $275,000 settlement, said Kline and Specter. 

According to Kline & Specter, the problem began in April 2013 when the McCartys decided to switch from propane to natural gas. In June, the McCartys hired Shore Guys at the suggestion of Cape May Court House-based South Jersey Fuel & Propane to perform the transition.

The lawsuit alleged negligence against Shore Guys claiming that workers cut the propane pipes under the home and turned off the tank but never locked the tank and didn’t remove the tank from the property.

"They left the situation with a hazard beneath the McCarty's house that they couldn't possibly see or know about," said attorney Shanin Specter.

Kline & Specter said that the McCarty’s had a neighbor help them turn on their gas fireplace the day before the blast. The neighbor noticed the valve was closed and opened it up, unknowingly sending propane gas into the severed pipes – gathering under the house.

On Nov. 7 as McCarty turned on his shower igniting the hot water heater, the propane gas below the home ignited, according to the lawsuit.

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