BOSTON, Mass. — Columbia Gas and NiSource agreed to pay $143 million to settle class-action lawsuits filed by thousands of Massachusetts residents and business owners affected by fires and natural gas explosions in September 2018.
Attorneys for Bailey & Glasser, which has several West Virginia locations, spend six months in intensive mediation and negotiations with Columbia Gas for the Massachusetts residents.
Bailey & Glasser worked on the class-actions with attorneys from Grant & Eisenhofer and Morgan & Morgan.
"These explosions devastated the communities and economy of the towns in Merrimack Valley," co-lead counsel John Roddy, an attorney with Bailey & Glasser, said in an interview with The West Virginia Record. "Families suffered for months in the gripping cold. Businesses shuttered, and lives were upended."
Roddy said some of those affected are still suffering.
"To this day, the people whose lives were most severely disrupted by the explosions are not fully back on their feet, but we believe this settlement is the quickest and fairest method to ensure that residents and businesses are made whole again," Roddy said.
The proposed settlement will compensate residents who were harmed for their losses and hardships that resulted from the explosions and fires.
The settlement is still subject to court approval. It is separate from the money paid to the towns to cover infrastructure repairs and other expenses, as well as from the individual claims involving personal injuries and wrongful death.
The explosions and fires in the Merrimack Valley communities of Lawrence, Andover and North Andover killed one, injured approximately 25 others and damaged or destroyed more than 100 buildings.
There was a separate settlement reached in May for $80 million for the infrastructure damage.
NiSource previously said it has spent close to $1 billion responding to the disaster.