Breakstone, White & Gluck Representing Family in Wrongful Death Claim Against Columbia Gas and NiSource
Attorney Marc L. Breakstone has confirmed to the media that Columbia Gas and parent company NiSource will face a second wrongful death lawsuit following the Merrimack Valley gas explosions. Attorney Breakstone is representing the family of the late Kenneth DeVeau of North Andover, who suffered cardiac arrest and slipped into a coma after the Sept. 13th explosions. DeVeau, 57, suffered from illnesses such as Myotonic Dystrophy and a weakened heart, and had limited mobility due to a chronic neurological condition. DeVeau suffered the heart attack and injuries at an evacuation center. He was then transported to Lawrence General Hospital, where he briefly regained consciousness. He died from complications on Sept. 26.
Attorney Breakstone said the family has not yet filed the wrongful death lawsuit. They will do so once DeVeau’s sister is appointed the personal representative of his estate.
NiSource disclosed the second wrongful death claim yesterday when it filed its quarterly financial disclosures with the SEC. The company noted two parties had reported their intent to assert wrongful death claims after the Columbia Gas explosions in Merrimack Valley. Prior to this, only the family of 18-year-old Leonel Rondon had announced its intention.
Family of late North Andover man says he suffered cardiac arrest, slipped into coma after Merrimack Valley evacuations, Boston Globe, Nov. 2, 2018
Family says 2nd death linked to Merrimack Valley gas explosions, WCVB, Nov. 2, 2018
Second Family Plans Wrongful Death Suit Against Columbia Gas And NiSource, WGBH, Nov. 2, 2018
Second wrongful death lawsuit to be filed against Columbia Gas, Lawrence Eagle Tribune, Nov. 2, 2018
Family of man who died in aftermath of gas blasts plans suit, San Francisco Chronicle, Nov. 2, 2018
WBZ Radio Coverage: Attorney Marc Breakstone Interviewed, Nov. 2, 2018
Merrimack Valley Residents: Using Space Heaters and Hot Plates Safely
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
- Do not plug into extension cords or power strips.
- Use on a level surface.
- Keep at least 3 feet away from furniture, bedding and other flammable materials.
- Keep children well away from space heaters.
- If it blows a fuse or trips the breaker, stop using it immediately.
- When you leave your house, consider locking your space heater up in a room which children cannot reach. Make sure it is unplugged.
Hot Plate Safety Tips
- Use hot plates on a steady countertop. Keep a 1-foot circle of safety around your hot plate.
- Do not leave pots or pans on the hot plate.
- Stand with the hot plate while you are cooking.
- Keep children away from any cooking device.
- Always turn your hot plate off.
Over the next few months, remember to test your smoke alarm batteries a few times each week. You can set up an alarm on your cell phone to help you remember.
Learn Your Legal Rights – Call 800-379-1244
Breakstone, White & Gluck, a Boston personal injury law firm, is assisting residents and businesses affected by the Merrimack Valley gas explosions on Sept. 13. Many residents in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover will be recovering for a long time.
We are assisting residents who suffered physical injuries, emotional distress and those facing the prospect of several months without gas service. Because of the uncertainty about gas service, it is important to learn your legal rights now.
If you have lost your gas service, you may be entitled to file a claim for compensation from Columbia Gas, beyond what the gas company or a community fund may offer. Do not sign any paperwork accepting a payment without first speaking to a lawyer who is experienced in investigating home fires and gas explosions involving utilities. At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our lawyers are here to listen to your personal experience and really work to help you. Read about our past work.
Learn your legal rights. For a free legal consultation, contact Breakstone, White & Gluck at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.
Help for Columbia Gas Victims and Customers
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.
Columbia Gas: No Gas Service for “SEVERAL MONTHS”
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.
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.
Columbia Gas Explosions: Common Questions if you have been displaced or your home is without gas
If 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.
Attorney: $100 Million in Legal Liabilities Estimated in Merrimack Valley Gas Explosions
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.
Following Lawrence Natural Gas Explosions, Common Questions from Homeowners, Residents and Those Injured
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.
Residents were forced to evacuate as Columbia Gas shut off service for 8,600 customers in Merrimack Valley. Emergency responders spent hours and hours putting out flames and stabilizing the area.
The next day, Governor Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency, putting Eversource, not Columbia Gas, in charge of the recovery. As the NTSB investigates the Merrimack Valley natural gas explosion, Columbia Gas says it will rebuild 48 miles of gas pipeline in the region. This accelerates its modernization plan for the region.
Many residents have now returned to their homes, but they are without gas service and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) continues to investigate. The NTSB is investigating a pressure increase detected in the natural gas pipeline north of Boston, according to CNN. According to WCVB, NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said the investigation will focus on the activity of the pressure sensors on the gas line.
Breakstone, White & Gluck provides answers to a few common questions:
- Homeowners Insurance Agents. If your home or property was damaged, contact your home insurance agent. Columbia Gas has set up a property damage hotline, but the company is struggling to keep up with claims. Many people waited in line this weekend, only to be turned away. Call your home insurance agent first. Your agent works for you and can be a resource in navigating this stressful situation. For more help, read this advisory from the Massachusetts Division of Insurance.
- Property Damage to Your Car. Contact your auto insurance if your car was parked on your property and damaged as a result of the fires and explosions.
- Gather Receipts. Collect receipts for expenses you incur as a result of the gas explosion, including for hotel rooms, the purchase of new groceries and home maintenance. Keep a written list of other losses, such as if you miss work or your child misses school. Note everything, even things such as your child missing out on playing after-school sports for an extended period, if relatives cannot come stay with you for the holiday and purchases of new clothing. Share the list with your home insurance agent and Columbia Gas. It is important to keep a list on a daily basis so you don’t forget any of the details. Remember to use your cell phone camera too.
- Injury Claims. If you or a loved one have been injured, learn your legal rights. Injury claims are much different than claims for property damage. Injury claims should be handled by a personal injury lawyer who specializes in representing those who have been injured by gas explosions, fires, burns and construction accidents. These cases require intense and thorough investigation and knowledge of state and federal regulations. Read more about our law firm’s experience.
Free Legal Consultation – Breakstone, White & Gluck
Breakstone, White & Gluck and our personal injury lawyers are reviewing cases for injury victims of the Lawrence, North Andover and Andover natural gas explosions. If you have been injured, you may have the right to seek compensation for damages, including medical bills, lost wages, emotional and psychological injuries and physical pain and suffering. If you are married, you may also seek damages for the loss of consortium, which is compensation for the stress and hardship placed upon a spouse.
Learn your rights. For a free legal consultation, contact our lawyers at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.
From Our Attorneys: Resources for Helping Victims of the Merrimack Valley Natural Gas Explosions
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:
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.
Chemical Explosion in North Andover Injures Four; Cause Under Investigation
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
Norfolk Propane Gas Explosion Leads to Federal Safety Alert
As a direct result of our client’s tragic death, 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.
The PHMSA called the Norfolk gas explosion which killed Nichols and injured seven others the “most notable” of cases it considered.
On July 30, 2010, William Nichols, a 47-year-old electrician was working in the basement of an unfinished condominium at The Village at River’s Edge when it exploded. The structure was demolished. Nichols was buried under burning debris for 70 minutes and suffered burns over 80 percent of his body before he was rescued. Emergency workers responded from 21 nearby cities and towns. He died later that night at a Boston hospital.
The Nichols family was represented by attorney Marc L. Breakstone, of Breakstone, White & Gluck of Boston. In the lawsuit, the Nichols’ family alleged that EnergyUSA had negligently under-filled a new propane tank in the condominium development, causing the chemical odor which had been added to the propane to fade and become undetectable. When a loose fitting on the plumbing caused odorless propane gas to leak into the basement, Nichols and others were unaware of the extreme danger of working in the structure. When a hot water heater pilot ignited, the house exploded in a ball of flames. The remaining structure caved in on Mr. Nichols who was trapped in burning debris for over an hour.
During the litigation, Breakstone discovered that the propane supply company had intentionally under-filled the storage tank to save around $2,000. As a result of this, the chemical odorant in the gas faded out making the leaking gas undetectable.
The family settled its wrongful death lawsuit with EnergyUSA Propane and Smolinsky Brothers Plumbing and Heating for $7.5 million.
Injection process. LPG is odorized through manual and automated injection. When it is odorized by manual means, the PHMSA recommends quality control checks be conducted. It recommends periodic equipment checks when LPG is odorized through automated means.
New tanks or freshly cleaned tanks. The PHMSA recommends those who fill LPG tanks use quality control measures that ensure LPG has sufficient odorant when it is delivered to end users. It also recommends people who receive new or recently cleaned propane tanks be notified.
Odorization standards. PHMSA recommends that all LPG transported in rail tank car tanks or cylinders be odorized in accordance with the requirements of § 173.315(b)(1), of the Hazardous Materials Regulations, issued by the Department of Transportation.
About Breakstone, White & Gluck
Breakstone White & Gluck has over 100 years of combined experience successfully representing the seriously injured. To learn more, visit our website at www.bwglaw.com.