Most W.Va. gas line explosion lawsuits settled

By Kyle Lovern

August 28, 2013

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The companies that own a gas pipeline that exploded near Charleston in December have settled all but one of the lawsuits filed by residents who were impacted by the blast.

Settlements recently were reached in six of the seven lawsuits filed last month against NiSource, subsidiary Columbia Gas Transmission and individual employees, Bobby Warner, an attorney who represents the residents, told media outlets Tuesday.

Details of the settlements are confidential, but Warner said the plaintiffs were “pleased with the results.”

The Dec. 11 explosion and blaze destroyed houses, sent flames shooting nearly 100 feet into the air on both sides of Interstate 77 and melted asphalt and guardrails on the highway. No one was killed or seriously injured.

The blast occurred on a 20-inch-diameter natural gas transmission line segment that was installed in 1967, according to a preliminary National Transportation Safety Board report.

NiSource didn’t immediately comment Tuesday. Columbia said last month that it had settled with and provided compensation to more than 40 families impacted by the explosion. It also stressed that the company took immediate action after the blast to ensure that basic essentials like housing and food were met for those who were affected.

“As we have since the moment this incident occurred, we are committed to working with those families in a fair and reasonable manner,” the company said in the statement.

One resident, Margaret Johnson, refused to settle and will proceed with her lawsuit after attempts to mediate failed, Warner said.