Keches Law Group responds to Merrimack Valley Gas Explosions – Filing a Class Action Lawsuit on Behalf of Multiple Plaintiffs

On or about September 13th, 8600 residents were forced to evacuate their homes in the Merrimack Valley as more than 60 buildings experienced numerous explosions and gas fires.  Firefighters were unable to help every victim, and some buildings were left to burn.  According to news reports, 12 homes were destroyed and thousands lost power as it was cut to avoid additional explosions.  Most of the residents, specifically in Andover, North Andover, and Lawrence, Essex County, Massachusetts, continue to suffer from lack of heat, hot water, and damaged or destroyed appliances such as stoves and dryers.  Due to displacement, business closures, and power outages, many residents couldn’t return to work.   

Alleged Causes of the Gas Explosions 

Columbia Gas, a subsidiary of NISOURCE, Inc., (NYSE: NI), has been involved in other gas explosion incidents (Springfield, MA – November of 2012) and have been fined on multiple occasions by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities.  Columbia Gas was ill-prepared to respond to the disaster, which was caused by over-pressurization of gas distribution lines.  Reports inform us that a section of pipe several miles long, owned by Columbia Gas, was pressurized at least 12 times higher than it should have been prior to the explosions.  It’s likely the cast iron pipes ruptured after years of neglect.  At approximately 50 years old, the gas pipes leaked into homes and businesses due to the lack of; safety systems, maintenance, monitoring, and repairs, furthermore causing the explosions.  As a direct result to Colombia Gas’s acts and omissions, Plaintiffs and Class members continue to experience the loss of use and enjoyment of their homes as well as excessive costs for alternative housing, arrangements for food and beverages, and for some – the inability to work.   

Turning Toward Relief

The members of the class represented by the Plaintiffs include all those who were forced to flee from their homes and who have been unable to access their homes or enjoy full use of their homes in the aftermath of the September 13, 2018 fires and explosions, but who did not suffer death, physical injury, or the destruction of their homes.  Columbia Gas breached their duty by inadequately maintaining its gas distribution lines.  They failed to monitor the pressurization of said systems in a safe manner and couldn’t ensure appropriate safety precautions to prevent the gas leaks.  At all times the defendants were responsible for providing natural gas in a safe manner and containing it.  As a result of the failure to do so, Plaintiffs and members of the Class have been foreseeably harmed and continue to suffer the loss of use of their property.  The defendants were aware of the hazards posed by the aging gas distribution lines and had identified that upgrades were needed to the lines prior to September 13, 2018.   

“We want to ensure those impacted by this negligence have the proper counsel to make an informed decision on what’s best for them. All thirty-five of our attorneys live in Massachusetts. We’re not just attorneys, we’re friends, neighbors, and family looking out for the best interest of our own.” said Managing Partner Sean Flaherty.  

 If you’ve suffered property damage or injury as a result of the gas explosion (or if you just have a question or concern), contact us today and we'll do whatever we can to help.