Survivor sues Medina apartment complex after explosion kills wife and son

Posted at 10:25 AM, Apr 03, 2017

A Medina County man who lost his wife and son in an apartment explosion in February is suing the owners and managers of Medina Village Apartments.

Robert Drake is seeking an unspecified amount of compensatory and punitive damages through a lawsuit filed Monday in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.

The suit, filed by the firm Friedman, Domiano & Smith, names Integrity Realty Group, LLC, SPM Properties, LLC and SageWater as defendants.

According to the 20-page document, the defendants:

"created the dangerous conditions that caused the explosion and devastating loss of life and injury to the Drake family. Defendants left an uncapped gas line unsafely exposed in the Drake apartment after the removal of a gas dryer, in violation of the National Fuel Gas Code and the International Fuel Gas Code."

The lawsuit alleges that a large amount of natural gas escaped into the Drake apartment prior to February 9, resulting in a catastrophic explosion.

Jacob Drake, 18, who was bedridden from cerebral palsy, died in the explosion and building collapse.

"Jacob Harley Drake endured conscious pain and suffering and psychological agony, both from an awareness that his death was imminent and from physical injury prior to his death," according to the lawsuit.

Robert Drake, and his wife, Sheila, suffered severe burns trying to rescue Jacob. Sheila died on February 20.

During an exclusive interview with News 5 in March, Robert said he suffered burns over 34 percent of his body and required skin grafts.

He said the tragic deaths of his wife and son seemed like "a bad dream."

"I miss them so much. They were my life," he said.

The lawsuit contends that Integrity Realty and SPM Properties were negligent by failing to cap the Drake gas dryer outlet. The suit also claims the companies failed to properly hire, supervise and train maintenance workers and didn't employ qualified plumbers in gas piping and capping procedures.

State Fire Marshal: Gas leak caused explosion at Medina apartment that killed mother, son

The suit indicates SageWater and other "John Doe" defendants are companies who performed services or maintenance at Medina Village Apartments.

"These defendants were aware of gas leaks on the premises, in various apartments, and consciously failed and refused to call for corrective action from local authorities or Columbia Gas," according to the filing.