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Columbia Gas customers file class action lawsuit over Boston-area explosions, fire

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A class-action lawsuit has been filed against the utility that works with pipes linked to a series of explosions and fires of last week shook three Boston-area suburbs.

The lawsuit against Columbia Gas of Massachusetts and its parent company NiSource claims the company was negligent and not invest in the aging of the infrastructure, while the construction of more pipelines, MassLive.com reported.

Class action lawsuit filed against Columbia Gas, he was accused of “extreme negligence” in the care of the pipeline. https://t.co/fJjNG4bdhF pic.twitter.com/i6Rl0gXWMV

— masslivenews (@masslivenews) September 18, 2018

The indictment was filed Tuesday in Essex County Superior Court by law firm Morgan & Morgan, and lists Francely Acosta of Lawrence, Mass., as the claimant.

Columbia Gas has “the worst record of pipelines in this country,” said Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an environmental lawyer who is the plaintiff.

Kennedy said that his company carries out its own investigation into the cause of the explosion, according to WBUR radio.

The explosions in Lawrence, andover and North Andover last Thursday resulted in at least 70 fires, injured more than two dozen people and killed an 18-year-old Lawrence resident, who died after a chimney fell on his vehicle.

Those injured and the family of the man killed, which is expected to be shown separately, are not included in the lawsuit.

Thousands were displaced from their homes, and despite their return in the weekend, they are expected to be without gas, and utilities for weeks.

Preliminary research reports over-pressurized gas pipelines are likely to be the cause of the disaster. The pipes were some of the oldest in the country and were in need of millions of dollars in repairs, lawyers argue.

Safety regulators said that the press in Columbia gas reached 12 times higher than the systems prior to the explosions, according to MassLive.

The pressure in the gas was 12 times higher than normal, according to a letter from Massachusetts’ senators demanding the utility responsible for the lines comply with federal researchers.

“The federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has indicated that the pressure in the Columbia Gas system needs to be around 0.5 kilos per square centimeter, but the measurements in the area of at least 6 PSI – 12 times higher than the system was designed to hold,” U.S. Sens. Edward J. Markey and Elizabeth Warren, wrote in a letter to the two companies.

Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera called the lawsuit “shameful” and said that the company “lived up to its social responsibility.”

“I find it shameful that people are trying to get victims of today, who are hungry for information and they are preying on these people’s desire for information,” Rivera said in a press conference. “That must stop.”

Frank Petosa, head of Morgan & Morgan, said the lawsuit gives the customer more options.

“It is never too early to give people the ability to have access to justice and access to information to ensure that if they are asked to sign any form with a company that has caused, as this company has a mass of damage and destruction, that they understand why it happened, and if they are going to be offered any compensation of any capacity, before they sign that they have a chance to fully understand their rights,” Petosa said.

Columbia Gas announced Tuesday that it would donate $10 million toward a relief fund for the victims of Boston, Boston FOX affiliate WFXT-TV reported.

Columbia Gas is offering $10M for relief fund after explosion, fire https://t.co/qjlMibmWvG

— Boston 25 News (@boston25) September 18, 2018

“The citizens of the community hurts, and as a step in a longer process, Columbia Gas would like to announce they will be an immediate 10 million contribution,” Bryant said.

The National Transportation Safety Board said the behavior of her own research, but that can take up to two years.

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