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Objections filed to Columbia Gas class action lawsuit

by Bill Kirk, Eagle Tribune

Daniel Rivera is known around the area as the mayor of one of the biggest cities in the Merrimack Valley.

He's known in his hometown as being a friendly and accessible elected official.

But in the case of a class action lawsuit against Columbia Gas, he just wants to be known as Daniel Rivera, of 1 Thomas Road, Lawrence.

Rivera's home is in the area affected by the Sept. 13, 2018 gas disaster and, as such, he is automatically a "Class Member" of the lawsuit.

What that means is that if Rivera, the mayor of Lawrence, files paperwork with the court and agrees to "opt-in" to any settlement, he will likely get a check for anywhere from $50 for minor damage to his home up to $15,000 for major damage.

But, Rivera said in a letter to the settlement administrator, he doesn't want anything.

In fact, he said, the settlement should be nullified.

"I am of the opinion that the settlement terms are unfair and unreasonable," he said in a letter dated Nov. 9. The deadline to file objections to the class action suit with the settlement administrator, Superior Court Judge James Lang, was Dec. 10, 2019.

The reason Rivera objects to the suit, he said, is that the attorneys' fees proposed as part of the settlement are too high, the time frame to apply for compensation under the settlement is too short, and the claims process is too complicated.

He isn't the only one objecting to the proposed settlement.

A group of residents who formerly lived in a multi-family at 6-12 Springfield St. filed an objection to the settlement, saying they suffered mental and physical distress when their apartment building burned in the disaster.

They are being represented by D'Angelo Law Group of North Andover. In their objection, signed by attorneys Stephen D'Angelo and Matthew Andrade, the residents said the class action suit should be "denied or decertified" for a number of reasons, including the fact that the amounts being offered are not enough.


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