Columbia Gas has settled a lawsuit filed by a Massachusetts family whose house was destroyed in last year's Merrimack Valley gas explosions.
Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, an operating company of NiSource, Inc., was sued by the Figueroa family of Lawrence for gross negligence after their house exploded, leaving one of their family members severely injured and suffering from mobility problems, destroying their house at 35 Chickering Road and killing 18-year-old family friend Leonel Rondon.
“Things will never be the same for the Figueroa family, but today is an important step forward on a long road towards healing," Socrates De La Cruz, one of the lawyers representing the family, said in a statement.
The family's 21-year-old daughter Shakira Figueroa was in the house when it exploded and has undergone multiple surgeries for her injuries. Two other family members were also hurt in the blast.
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The family will be receiving an undisclosed monetary settlement, a motorized wheelchair, a mobility van and modifications to their home.
"The company recognizes the devastating impact of what happened, and they knew they needed to help try to make things better for the family and the Merrimack Valley Community," said De La Cruz. "With this settlement, they have done just that."
The September 13, 2018 explosions injured around 25 people and damaged or destroyed dozens of businesses in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover.
“We know that what happened on September 13 was absolutely tragic, and that many residents will live with the consequences for the rest of their lives," Joe Hamrock, CEO of NiSource, said in a statement. "Our hearts go out to the Figueroa family and the entire community.”