Thu 25th Aug | 2022

Circle K Explosion Kills Devoted Wife and Mother of 5, Family Files Lawsuit Against 13 Defendants

Accidents In the News Negligence Cases Personal Injury Premises Liability Wrongful Death BY

Pinellas, County, Fla., – August 25, 2022 – Following the tragic death of 46-year-old Sheryll Caballes, her family continues to search for answers. The horrific and fiery explosion occurred days before Christmas of 2021, when Ms. Caballes and her two minor children stopped to refuel their family vehicle at a Circle K location in Palm Harbor, Florida.

While standing outside of her vehicle pumping gas, another customer’s vehicle made contact with the fuel dispenser. The impact forced the dispenser system to fold over, trapping Ms. Caballes against her vehicle. Terrified and desperate to save their mother, her children attempted to get the attention of the Circle K employees while also fighting to free her. The incident turned deadly as the dispenser pumping fuel from the station’s underground tanks continued to supply fuel which ignited into a roaring fire, burning Ms. Caballes to death.

Following their devastating loss, the victim’s family retained partner Ben J. Whitman of the catastrophic injury powerhouse Clark, Fountain, La Vista, Littky-Rubin & Whitman to investigate the cause of this incident.

During the inspection, Whitman discovered that each fuel dispenser at the station is equipped with a shear valve, a fire suppression device designed to stop all fuel flow in the event the pump is damaged or struck by a vehicle. The fact that a fire started and continued to spread is clear evidence that the shear valve did not work as intended.

Whitman also discovered that the Circle K employees had several minutes to intervene before the fire became fatal. Not only did the employees fail to free Ms. Caballes, they also failed to trigger the emergency stop switch, which would have cut off all fuel to the pump immediately, which would have saved Ms. Caballes’ life.

Tragically, the medical investigation revealed that Ms. Caballes was alive when the fire started and aware that her children were present as she helplessly endured the excruciating pain as the fire consumed her.

Early in the investigation, our legal team made a shocking discovery – Circle K and its contractors had destroyed critical evidence by discarding the shear valve that should have stopped the fire. They also failed to preserve the nuts and bolts used to secure the fuel dispenser to the ground that broke during the incident.

Following a multi-day inspection of the fuel station and the fuel equipment involved in the incident, Whitman stated, “Our inspection revealed obvious systemic failures at the fuel station. There is no question the defendants had ample opportunity to prevent this tragedy had they acted responsibly. Their failure to preserve the evidence presents a unique legal issue, however, we are confident that the legal process will hold the companies accountable for depriving our clients of this evidence.”

“Although no amount of money will return this loving mother to her family, our team of lawyers and experts continue to fight for justice – no matter the time or expense involved. The lawsuit seeks to hold every party that played a role in this tragic and preventable event accountable to the full extent of the law. No family deserves to suffer what this family has endured,” Whitman concluded.

Caballes v. Circle K Stores, Inc. – Access Complaint Here
Case No: 15562407
Pinellas County, Florida

Ben J. Whitman is a partner of Clark, Fountain, La Vista, Littky-Rubin & Whitman in West Palm Beach, Florida, and focuses his nationwide practice on catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases involving commercial trucks, automotive product defects, defective consumer products, electrocutions, explosions, construction site accidents, defective construction and industrial equipment, premises liability, and negligent security.

About Clark Fountain

Based in West Palm Beach, Florida, Clark, Fountain, La Vista, Littky-Rubin & Whitman, has been representing clients in all areas of personal injury litigation, including automobile and trucking crashes, product liability, wrongful death, medical malpractice, and negligent security law for nearly four decades.

The prestigious plaintiff personal injury firm has a longstanding history of successfully litigating complex cases and its phenomenal track record of obtaining record-setting verdicts and settlements for their injured clients in Florida and throughout the United States.

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