Articles Posted in Explosions

Space heater

Space heaters and hot plates are being distributed to Columbia Gas customers in the Merrimack Valley. Our attorneys urge residents using these devices to follow these safety tips.

The space heaters and hot plates distributed to Columbia Gas customers in Merrimack Valley present serious fire and safety issues. We urge residents using these devices for heat and cooking to follow these important safety tips:

Space Heater Safety

lawrence home explosion on chickering road

If you have been personally affected by the Columbia Gas fires and explosions or the interruption of gas and electric service, we are here to help you.  Breakstone, White & Gluck of Boston is currently assisting individuals injured in the explosions and fires, homeowners and tenants whose property was damaged, as well as families whose gas and electric service was interrupted.  It is important that you know your rights. Our Massachusetts law firm has extensive experience representing victims of explosions and fires.

If your family or business has been affected by the Columbia Gas explosions in Merrimack Valley, contact Breakstone, White & Gluck to learn your rights. Please call 800-379-1244 for a free legal consultation with one of our attorneys.

Physical Injuries a Emotional Distress
The 70 gas fires and explosions caused one tragic death and more than 25 injuries.  Beyond physical injuries, countless residents who smelled gas and ran for their lives have been traumatized by the events of September 13, 2018.  The fear for one’s life and safety is real in the face of random explosions and fires in your community.  If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms such as nightmares, flashbacks or anxiety you may have a right to bring a claim for emotional distress, even without physical injuries.  We are here to speak with you and advise you of your rights to bring a claim for emotional distress.

Interruption of Gas Service
8600 Columbia Gas residential and business customers have no gas service which means no hot water, no heat or no cooking.  If your gas service has been cut off, you have been harmed.  Columbia Gas just announced that it may take “several months” to restore gas service to these families and businesses in the Merrimack Valley.  This is chilling news for every Columbia Gas customer, including homeowners, tenants and businesses.

Hot Plates and Space Heaters Are Not Enough…
Columbia Gas has distributed hot plates and space heaters to 6000 gas customers who are without service.  But is this enough?  Can a family of five be fed off a 2 burner hot plate?  Can a single space heater warm a multi-room home or apartment?  What about hot water?  If you are asking these questions, you likely have a claim for the interference with the use of your home or business.  We are here to help you.

Every Columbia Gas customer (property owners, tenants and businesses) who will be without natural gas for hot water, heat or cooking will be seriously affected.  How will families live in their homes and apartments without hot water for showers and bathing?  How will people endure the winter without heat?   Even if you or your home did not have property damage, you may be entitled to be compensated for the interference with your use and enjoyment of your property as a result of the loss of your gas service.  This is recognized claim for “nuisance damages” under Massachusetts law.  Given the uncertainty about how long gas service will be interrupted, it is important that you know your rights.  We are here to help customers facing the prospect of living in homes and operating businesses without gas service.

We urge you to consult with an experienced Massachusetts gas explosion lawyer before you sign off on any payments by Columbia Gas or any of the funds established to assist fire and explosion victims.  Breakstone, White and Gluck has over 100 combined years of experience helping families who have been seriously injured or displaced due to fires and gas explosions. We are here to assist and advise you about your rights.

Call us for a free consultation at 800-379-1244 or fill out our contact form.

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lawrence home explosion on chickering road

Merrimack Valley Gas Explosion: Home explosion on Chickering Road, Lawrence, Mass. on Sept. 13, 2018

We just learned that it may take “several months” for Columbia Gas to restore gas services to 8600 families and businesses in the Merrimack Valley. This is chilling news for every Columbia Gas customer, including homeowners, tenants and businesses.

THE PROBLEM
Every Columbia Gas customer who will be without natural gas for hot water, heat, or cooking will be seriously affected. How are families going to live in their homes and apartments without hot water for showers and bathing? How will people endure the long winter without heat? Even if you or your home did not have property damage, you may have a legitimate claim for compensation.

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
If you are a customer of Columbia Gas facing these hardships, you need to know your rights. You may be entitled to be compensated for the interference with your use and enjoyment of your property as a result of the loss of your gas service. This is true for property owners, business owners, and tenants. Anyone who lives in a home or apartment that is without gas for heat, hot water, or cooking has a potential claim. Every business customer of Columbia Gas will be hurt. Given the uncertainty about how long gas service will be interrupted, it is important that you know your rights. This type of claim is recognized by the law of Massachusetts.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?
We are here to assist and advise you about your rights. We are Boston-based lawyers who have represented Massachusetts families and businesses that have been affected by gas explosions and fires for over 25 years. Feel free to call us for a free legal consultation: 800-379-1244. You can also use our contact form.

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explosion-accident-395-1If you were ordered to evacuate your home or business because of the recent Columbia Gas leak and explosions, you may have a right to compensation for the costs associated with your displacement. If you have returned to a home or business that has had the gas service shut off, you may also be entitled to money damages for interference with the full use and enjoyment of your property. This is what is called “nuisance” damages. Whether you own or rent, if you are living in a home or apartment with no gas, no hot water or no fuel for operating basic appliances, you have the right to bring a claim for compensation.

Thousands of customers of Columbia Gas have been so affected. Homeowners, tenants and business owners have the right to file these claims. We urge you to consult with an experienced lawyer before you sign off on any payments by Columbia Gas or any of the funds established to assist fire and explosion victims. Breakstone, White & Gluck has over 100 combined years of experience helping families who have been injured or displaced due to fires and explosions. We have also represented many seriously injured individuals in home fires and explosions.

As an example, Breakstone, White & Gluck successfully recovered $7.5 million for the family of William (“Billy”) Nichols in a wrongful death lawsuit. Mr. Nichols was an electrician, working in a new construction home when it exploded due to leaking propane gas. He suffered under burning embers for one hour before he died of his injuries. Our attorneys aggressively litigated the case which resulted in a recovery for the family.

Watch this video of Scott Nichols who talks about his experience being represented by our firm.

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Attorney Marc L. Breakstone of Boston in a television interview in 2016.

Attorney Marc L. Breakstone, speaking to a reporter in 2016.

Attorney Marc L. Breakstone was interviewed by The Boston Business Journal about the Merrimack Valley home explosions. Attorney Breakstone roughly estimated there are $100 million in legal liabilities related to the natural gas explosions, which devastated entire neighborhoods in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover last week. His early estimate was based in part on a preliminary assessment of home values in the area.

Attorney Breakstone is a Boston personal injury lawyer, with over 35 years of experience representing those who have been injured by negligence. He is experienced at representing those injured in construction accidents and home gas explosions.

If your family has been affected by the Columbia Gas explosions or fires, Breakstone, White & Gluck can assist you. Please call us at 800-379-1244 for a free legal consultation.

In the summer of 2010, one of our clients died after a propane gas explosion in the Norfolk, Massachusetts condominium where he was working. Our client was trapped for more than 90 minutes before he was rescued. He died the next day.

We later learned our client had no warning there was a propane gas leak. The chemical odorant added to emit a “rotten eggs” smell had faded. Attorney Breakstone filed a wrongful death lawsuit against EnergyUSA and Smolinsky Brothers Plumbing and Heating, alleging EnergyUSA was negligent and had under-filled a new propane tank. He later negotiated a $7.5 million settlement with the defendants in 2012.

The Norfolk explosion raised awareness of the dangers caused when companies are negligent in handling propane gas. In Massachusetts, state officials warned consumers to check recent propane deliveries. In July 2013, the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration published a national safety alert warning the public about the risks of under-odorization.

For background on this case, read the settlement announcement. You can also visit our website.

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Residents will spend weeks, months and even years recovering from the Lawrence, North Andover and Andover gas explosions. And throughout New England, many are also asking: are we safe in our homes?

If your family has been affected by the Columbia Gas explosions or fires, we can assist you. Please call us at 800-379-1244.

On Sept. 13th, natural gas explosions and fires erupted in the three Merrimack Valley communities. At least 70 blazes in all, causing devastation, dozens of injuries and one death.

At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our attorneys are saddened and stunned to learn about the devastating natural gas explosions in Lawrence, North Andover and Andover. Our hearts go out to the victims, the young man who was killed and his loved ones, the dozens who were injured and the hundreds who were forced to evacuate unsafe conditions.

Like so many others, our attorneys are following the media coverage. We hope everyone stays safe. We share these resources for anyone interested in helping:

Resources
Want to help Merrimack Valley residents displaced by fires? Here’s how, The Boston Globe

This article provides a list of relief organizations which are helping victims of the home gas explosions. There is contact information for the Red Cross, Salvation Army, Essex County Community Foundation and other organizations.

How to help the victims of the Merrimack Valley fires, explosions, WCVB
The Red Cross has nearly 75 people working in four evacuation centers in Merrimack Valley. You can make a donation to help fund their efforts.

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Four people were injured Thursday in a chemical plant explosion at the Dow Chemical facility in North Andover. The four victims were suffering from burns involving the chemical Trimethylaluminum, a physician at Lawrence Memorial Hospital told WBZ. One of the victims was being treated there. Three others were taken to Boston trauma centers by Medflight helicopter.

In 2013, a worker was killed in an explosion at the same facility.

Chemical explosions like the one in North Andover are tragic and life-changing for victims and families. Breakstone, White & Gluck recently represented the family of an electrician who was tragically killed in 2010 by a propane explosion. Read why the investigation into this case – and many explosion cases – are challenging:

About Breakstone, White & Gluck’s Experience

Attorney Marc Breakstone represented the family of an electrician named William “Billy” Nichols, who was killed in a propane gas explosion while working in a Norfolk condominium in 2010. Nichols, 46, was buried under burning debris for 97 minutes before he was rescued by local firefighters. He had severe burns over 80 percent of his body and was transported by Medflight helicopter to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, where he later died of his injuries.

Mr. Nichols’ death was the result of negligence on the part of EnergyUSA and Smolinsky Plumbing and Heating. EnergyUSA negligently under-filled a propane gas tank while Smolinsky Plumbing and Heating failed to tighten a furnace connection which led to the leak of the undetectable propane gas which caused the explosion.

Attorney Breakstone obtained a $7.5 million settlement from the companies following an investigation which revealed that EnergyUSA had also sold its assets to a publicly-traded company to avoid paying punitive damages to the victim’s family in a likely jury trial. Attorney Breakstone was able to obtain a court-order to freeze the remaining assets.

Materials from the case:

Norfolk Propane Explosion Victim’s Family Files Lawsuit Against Gas Company and Plumber.

Norfolk Propane Explosion Victim’s Family Files Lawsuit Against Gas Company and Plumber.

National Safety Alert on Propane Handling Recommendations, published by the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration

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As a direct result of the tragic death of Breakstone, White & Gluck client William Nichols in a propane gas explosion in July 2010, a leading federal agency has issued a safety alert regarding nationwide measures to prevent catastrophic propane gas explosions.

On July 17, 2013, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) published a national safety alert in the Federal Register which warns the public of the risks associated with under-odorization of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG). It also advises shippers and carriers on recommended procedures for ensuring that LPG is properly odorized on all modes of transportation.

Propane gas grill fire

For many of us, Fourth of July celebrations start with a barbecue grill. Many are powered by a propane gas tank and require special care in handling. Propane is an invisible, but highly flammable gas which can trigger an explosion if it leaks and comes into contact with fire. 

When grills are not properly used or maintained or are left unattended, accidents can occur. There are several safety concerns associated with grills, including propane leaks, cooking burns and fires. In the last year, there have also been a few product recalls involving grills.

Propane Gas Leaks and Explosions
Protect your propane gas tank from leaks. Take care when transporting it to your refilling station. Place it in a secure box and return it immediately home after filling it. Have it inspected annually by a qualified professional.

Store the propane gas tank outside your home. Also keep it away from your garage or any deck attached to your home. These areas may seem safe to use because they are not living areas, but according to the U.S. Fire Administration, more than half of all residential grilling fires in the U.S. begin on porches, terraces, exterior balconies and similar areas.

Grilling Burns and Structure Fires
When grilling, the safest solution is to stay outside your home or apartment building, as far away as you can.

This protects your home as well as your guests and young children who are too often victims of grilling burns. According to the National Fire Protection Association, children under age 5 accounted for about one quarter of all thermal burn injuries in 2007. Many of these burns occur when children are curious and touch or bump up against the grill.

If you live in an apartment building or multi-unit dwelling, you may also want to check with your property manager and city and town offices for additional information. Massachusetts state law does permit use of propane grills on first floor porches only, but some cities have gone a step further. For instance, the city of Boston does not permit either propane or charcoal grills above ground floor porches. Grilling on rooftops is not permitted either.

Before heading out to the grill, review the manufacturer’s instructions first. If you no longer have the instructions, check if they are available on the manufacturer’s website.

Use long-handled grilling tools and avoid wearing loose clothing. Work neat and remove grease and fat build-up from the grills.

Finally and most important, never leave the grill unattended. If you need to step away for a minute, finish up your cooking and turn the grill off.

Grill Recalls
Check the Consumer Product Safety Commission and your manufacturer’s website to see if there have been any recalls involving your grill. When a grill is recalled, you may be asked to return it to the manufacturer or retailer for a refund or be given instructions to replace a part.

In April 2012, more than 87,000 gas grills sold in the U.S. were recalled by One World Technologies, and another 1,400 in Canada. The company offered consumers a replacement regulator after receiving 569 reports its grills were leaking propane gas. The defective grills were sold at Home Depot stores nationwide and Directory Tools Factory Outlet stores from March 2011 through February 2012.

No injuries were reported at the time of the recall.

Another recall came in November 2012, when 37,000 Master Forge Gas Grills sold at Lowe’s Stores were recalled due to fire and burn hazards. In that case, consumers were asked to contact the manufacturer, Guangdong Vanward Electric Co., Ltd., of China, for revised instructions and a warning label that showed how to properly install the hose and regulator.

At the time of the recall, the manufacturer reported two reports of hoses melting and rupturing, but no injuries. The defective product was sold at Lowe’s stores nationwide from November 2011 through May 2012.

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