Nine people are suing NiSource and its subsidiary Columbia Gas.
The lawsuit also names individuals who are company employees quoted in a National Transportation Safety Board report released in June of this year.
Seven complaints have been filed in Kanawha County Court. Attorney Truman Griffith says, "We're all for business in WV, we just want it to be safe."
Griffith claims defendants didn't take proper safety precautions and maintenance measures.
The following statement was released by Columbia Gas in response to the lawsuit:
"Since the incident in Sissonville, WV took place, Columbia Pipeline Group has settled with and provided compensation to over 40 families impacted. Our legal and insurance teams continue to work with families -- and in some cases, their personal attorneys – to settle any remaining claims. As we have since the moment this incident occurred, we are committed to working with those families in a fair and reasonable manner.
Columbia took immediate action following the incident in Sissonville to ensure that basic essentials, including temporary housing, food, and transportation were provided to the affected community.
In addition to attending to local families, in the hours, days and weeks after the incident, we partnered with the regional office of the Red Cross – to tap into their special expertise, provide additional support for those in need.
Again, our legal and insurance teams will continue to work with families to settle the remaining claims in a fair and reasonable manner."
The plaintiff's lawyer Truman Griffith released this statement to us:
"Sure. The lawsuits were filed against Columbia Gas, NiSource and the other defendants because these defendants miserably failed to protect the citizens of Sissonville, WV from this life-altering explosion.
Imagine coming home and seeing your home, the place you were raising your children or the place you hoped to live out the remainder of your life, completely gone along with all of your personal possessions. Or imagine sitting in your home when you suddenly hear an explosion that sounds like a bomb being dropped outside and then a huge fireball engulfs your home and neighborhood... you then run from the house thinking your life is about to end. That's what our clients went through on the day of the explosion.
The people of Sissonville were certainly fortunate they were not killed that day. The first responders easily could have been picking up arms and legs from the scene instead of burned bricks, charred siding and old photo albums had this explosion occurred at any other moment that day. But our clients are not without injuries... both physical and emotional... along with the obvious damage to their homes and personal property.
Also, the homeowners we represent fear their property values have been reduced to zero due to the stigma associated with the area. All of this could have easily been prevented if the Defendants had properly monitored, maintained and repaired this old pipeline as they are required to do by law.
These companies make billions of dollars in our state and they need to make safety a priority. If not, these explosions will continue to occur, more property will be destroyed and lives will be lost. We want to see our clients get reasonably compensated for what they've been through, of course, but we also want these companies to make the necessary changes so that these events don't ever happen in our state again."
You can find more background on the explosion here.