Legal Battle Unveiled: Victim of House Explosion Sues Homeowner and Propane Company

In the wake of a devastating house explosion that occurred on December 15, 2021, in Vineland, NJ, legal proceedings have commenced as the victim, Maribel Caraballo, seeks justice. Caraballo, a Philadelphia resident, sustained severe injuries in the incident and has initiated a lawsuit against the homeowner, Jonathan Defrancis, and the propane delivery company, Suburban Propane L.P., which was involved in the installation and maintenance of the propane system at the property.

The explosion, which completely destroyed the residence on Cornucopia Drive, was allegedly caused by a propane leak. Caraballo’s complaint, recently transferred to Cumberland County Superior Court, sheds light on the extensive medical treatments she has undergone since the incident. These treatments include multiple surgeries to address significant burns, a brain injury, fractures in multiple ribs, the spine, ankle, foot, and facial fractures.

Caraballo was present in the living room when the explosion occurred, and she was found unconscious amidst the rubble. Emergency services promptly transported her to Crozer Chester Medical Center, where she remained hospitalized for more than two weeks. While the lawsuit does not specify the purpose of Caraballo’s presence in the house, authorities had reported that she was one of two individuals injured in the explosion.

Caraballo initially filed her lawsuit in February 2023 in Camden County Superior Court. However, the case was later transferred and consolidated with a related lawsuit initiated by USAA General Indemnity, an insurance company. USAA’s lawsuit, filed in Cumberland County in February 2023, seeks reimbursement of over $400,000, including damages paid to the Defrancis family and their own legal expenses.

The complaint filed by Caraballo alleges that the incident was a result of mistakes made by multiple parties. It asserts that Defrancis failed to properly disconnect his propane system before the installation of a natural gas system. Additionally, it claims that South Jersey Gas neglected to adequately inspect and shut off the propane system. Suburban Propane, the propane delivery company, is accused of displaying carelessness by either opening a valve on the disconnected propane line or filling a tank without conducting pressure testing on the pipes.

Each of the defendants named in the lawsuit has refuted any allegations of responsibility in the legal documents they submitted to the court. In a notable development, Suburban Propane managed to have two counts from the lawsuit filed by USAA dismissed, resulting in the company now facing an accusation of negligence alone. Suburban Propane’s defense centers around the argument that the homeowner, Jonathan Defrancis, created a safety hazard by disconnecting equipment without obtaining proper authorization.

Incidents like these underscore the importance of compliance and safety training in propane installation and maintenance. To avoid such tragic incidents, it is crucial for homeowners, propane delivery companies, and gas utilities to adhere to industry regulations and best practices. Award-winning tools such as the Propane Safety App provide comprehensive training programs and resources to educate individuals involved in propane operations, ensuring they have the knowledge and skills to prevent accidents and safeguard lives.


By promoting compliance and safety training, such incidents can be minimized, and the risks associated with propane installations can be effectively mitigated. It is imperative for all stakeholders in the propane industry to prioritize safety, follow proper procedures, and invest in ongoing training and education to protect both their customers and themselves from potential liabilities arising from accidents. For more information, visit

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