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CAI Loses Appeal Blaming Gas Company for Danversport Explosion

Owners of the former plant at 128 Rear Water St. had filed a lawsuit, claiming faulty gas work was to blame for the 2006 explosion. That claim was rejected and the decision upheld last week.

One of the homes destroyed in the 2006 explosion that rocked the Danversport neighborhood. Credit: Courtesy
One of the homes destroyed in the 2006 explosion that rocked the Danversport neighborhood. Credit: Courtesy
The state Appeals Court upheld a 2011 decision on Friday that rejected claims it was really faulty utility work that caused the 2006 explosion that leveled a Danversport paint manufacturing plant and damaged numerous homes in the surrounding neighborhood.

In 2009, plant owners CAI Inc. filed a civil lawsuit that blamed National Grid and gas companies it absorbed, saying repairs on gas mains by utility workers prior to the blast on Nov. 22, 2006 were more likely to have caused the explosion inside the plant.

CAI had sought to introduce numerous repair records for examination in court, but was limited by a judge to only encompass utility work within the immediate vicinity of the plant. The judge also denied a request to review repairs after the blast.

CAI lost that suit and then appealed the decision, saying the judge improperly limited the company's discovery requests.

The Appeals Court disagreed and the original judgment was affirmed last week.

"The plaintiffs' factually unsupported expert affidavit notwithstanding, the plaintiffs have not demonstrated that post-accident repair and complaint records have any reasonable likelihood of demonstrating that alleged gas leaks or corroded infrastructure at some...distance from the accident site more probably than not were a substantial contributing cause of the accident," the justices' decision read.

"...we are unable to conclude on the record before us that the motion judges' discovery orders lacked reasonable grounds or were otherwise outside the judges' broad discretion," they concluded.

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