If you lived, owned property or owned a business in Lawrence, Andover or North Andover, Massachusetts on September 13, 2018, you may be entitled to some of a $143 million settlement between the former Columbia Gas company, which was responsible for a series of explosions that rocked those communities and directly caused one death. If you are interested in applying for settlement money, contact an attorney from Altman & Altman LLP right away.
Columbia Gas pleads guilty, pays historic fine
On September 13, 2018, over-pressured gas lines forced high-pressure gas to flood into the distribution systems of various Columbia Gas customers’ neighborhoods, which eventually led to a series of large explosions.
An investigation revealed that the company failed to account for critical pressure sensors while replacing old cast iron pipes in Lawrence. It also showed the company was aware that its lackadaisical actions could potentially cause fires and explosions, but continued to cut corners anyways. They also didn’t keep adequate records and hired inexperienced, unfit workers for jobs.
After a series of court proceedings, Columbia Gas has now formally admitted guilt to charges that it violated the federal Pipeline Safety Act, which directly led to a large number of explosions that damaged dozens of homes and businesses and personal property. The company, as a result, will have to pay the largest criminal fine ever imposed for breaking such a law – $53 million.
In total, the class action lawsuit that resulted from the incident amassed to $143 million between Columbia Gas and the thousands of individuals affected by their reckless negligence. Some of that will have to go to court and legal fees ($26.1 million), but a large portion of money is available to those who were directly or indirectly affected.
Columbia Gas, as a result of the penalty, will no longer exist. Their parent company, NiSource Inc., was forced to sell the business, which was bought recently by Eversource. Any profits from the sale went to the federal government. The final result of the process, as proclaimed by U.S. attorneys, was a resounding message to public utilities companies that putting profits over the safety of their customers will result in severe punishments and consequences.
How to access the settlement money
Accessing money from a class action settlement – even when you have a solid claim to receive that money – is anything but a straightforward process. To ensure that you are getting everything that you are entitled to receive, the best course of action is to consult with an experienced attorney well versed in navigating class action settlements.
Attorneys at Altman & Altman LLP will be able to assess how you were affected and figure out how much money you should be entitled to, and then work with you on the process of filing paperwork to obtain the settlement money. Our attorneys will be with you every step of the way to ensure that no step is forgotten and no mistakes are made, which could potentially jeopardize you receiving your settlement money to the degree that you’re entitled to or affect the timing in which you receive the money.
Let us guide you through the process
At Altman & Altman LLP, we take great care in providing our clients with the best legal services possible. Massachusetts is our home, and we can only imagine how devastating such an incident like the Columbia Gas explosions would be for someone who was affected by it. We would utilize our vast resources and experience to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve for your pain and suffering.
For over 50 years, Altman & Altman LLP has helped clients who need a helping hand, whether in the Merrimack Valley, our home city of Cambridge, the Greater Boston Area or anywhere else in the Commonwealth. We have the experience to help you too.
Contact us online or call for a free consultation to go over the details of your case today at 617-492-3000 or toll-free at 800-481-6199. We are available 24/7.