Utility Settles in Massachusetts Explosion Lawsuits

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MERRILLVILLE -

Merrillville-based NiSource Inc. (NYSE: NI) and its subsidiary, Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, announced Monday it has settled all class-action lawsuits stemming from deadly explosions last year in that state for $143 million.

A series of explosions last September 13 in three Massachusetts cities killed one person, injured two dozen and left thousands of homes and businesses without natural gas service for weeks. The explosions were blamed on excess pressure in the natural gas pipelines.

"What happened last September was tragic, and we will always be mindful of its impact on our customers and everyone in the communities we serve, including those represented by this settlement," said Joe Hamrock, CEO and president of NiSource.

NiSource has previously agreed to establish a $1 billion fund to address the needs of affected customers and residents. The utility says it is still processing claims. "Today marks another important step forward, as we continue to fulfill our commitment to residents and businesses. We are pleased that we have reached a resolution so swiftly, and we thank the mediator, as well as all involved who helped us achieve this result," said Hamrock.

The agreement is subject to court approval.

Earlier in July, NiSource settled with the family of Leonel Rondon of Lawrence, MA who was killed in the explosion. The terms were not released.

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