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Judge issues final approval of $143M gas disaster settlement

by Jill Harmacinski, Eagle Tribune

The $143 million class action settlement in the Merrimack Valley gas disaster has been approved by Superior Court Judge James Lang.

However, Lang did not reduce the $28 million in legal fees to be paid to class action attorneys as requested by Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera, who was personally affected by the Sept. 13, 2018 gas disaster that occurred due to overpressurized lines operated by Columbia Gas.

Lang, in the decision, said he "carefully scrutinized the fees request in this case" and considered whether a reduction was warranted.

"But the court finds no basis for doing so," Lang wrote in the decision, which was released Thursday morning.

Immediately after reading Lang's decision, Rivera said he will file an appeal.

He had asked that legal fees drop from $28 million to $7 million.

By his estimate, Rivera said attorneys involved in the settlement are making $44,000 daily for their work since the gas disaster which affected residents and businesses in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover.

A final hearing on the gas disaster civil action lawsuit was held Feb. 27 in Salem Superior Court. The settlement includes thousands of dollars of lump sum and itemized payments for gas disaster victims.


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