By Jill Harmacinski, Eagle Tribune
The $143 million class action settlement for victims of the Merrimack Valley gas disaster cleared another hurdle Thursday when a final hearing on the proposed payments was held in Salem Superior Court.
After some 4 1/2 hours of testimony, Judge James Lang took the matter under advisement and is expected to formally rule on the settlement, potentially paving the way for thousands of dollars of lump sum and itemized payments for gas disaster victims in Lawrence, North Andover and Andover.
The average payment to a family of four is estimated to be $8,750, said Lang, during his introductory remarks at the hearing.
A total of 11,077 claims have been filed to date from residents and businesses in the three effected communities. That figure includes 10,432 residential claims and 645 claims from area businesses that suffered losses or went out of business altogether.
The claims, which encompass 35,000 people, ran the gamut from everything from spoiled food to lodging to property damage, according to testimony Thursday.