In April 2002, an explosion rocked the home of a mother and four children and killed the caretaker of the home. Prior to the explosion and while no one was home, Herring Gas of Louisiana filled an external propane tank. However, a prior tenant of the home had removed a space heater and failed to cap the gas line. Therefore, propane filled the house and the house exploded when a resident turned on a light switch.
Alton Tillery looked after the house for the landlord. Following the explosion, Mr. Tillery saved two of the children from the ensuing fire. However, he died as a result of his injuires. Following a two week trial and ten hours of deliberation, the jury awarded the mother and her four children $12.7 million. The jury also found Herring Gas of Louisiana to be 65% at fault for the explosion and, therefore, liable for $8.3 million of the total damages award.