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TECO seeks order to pay legal fees

Tampa Electric Co. has asked a judge to order Zurich American Insurance Co. to pay costs incurred in defending lawsuits brought against the utility in the wake of the April explosion at TECO's Gannon Power Plant.

According to the lawsuit filed Monday in Hillsborough Circuit Court, David Cook, Donna Kilpatrick and Johnny Bass were working for Power Plant Maintenance Co., which performed maintenance work for the TECO plant. Cook and Kilpatrick suffered injuries and Bass died as a result of injuries sustained in the blast.

Cook and Kilpatrick later sued TECO, claiming personal injuries, and Bass' family has filed a wrongful-death suit.

TECO, in court papers, says it had an insurance policy with Zurich that obligates the insurer to defend the company against the lawsuits and pay any damages. To date, the insurer has declined to extend coverage, according to the lawsuit.

In addition to Bass, the blast killed two other workers: Edward Barker and James Evan. A TECO investigation determined the explosion was caused by worker error. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has not issued its findings yet.