Judge rules in utility’s favor in deadly Evansville explosion

A judge has ruled in favor of a utility in a lawsuit filed over a 2017 natural gas explosion in southwestern Indiana that killed two women and injured three other people.

A Vanderburgh County judge granted CenterPoint’s motion for summary judgment on Tuesday in the civil lawsuit.

The judge found that the plaintiffs failed to produce evidence the utility was negligent and that their negligence directly resulted in the two victims’ deaths and injuries to three others, the Evansville Courier & Press reported.

The June 2017 explosion leveled a house in Evansville, killed Sharon Mand and Kathleen Woolems and wounded a man, a woman and her 10-year-old son.

The three surviving victims and representatives of Mand and Woolems’ estates alleged in their 2019 complaint that the utility, then known as Vectren, was negligent by failing to properly inspect gas lines and warn occupants of a leak. Two of the plaintiffs later withdrew their claims.

CenterPoint filed a motion for summary judgment, alleging there was no basis for the lawsuit.

A senior claims investigator for the utility said in an affidavit that an investigation showed that no Vectren employees had performed work at the residence for at least a year or more before the explosion, and that in the blast’s aftermath, pressure tests on the gas lines did not reveal any leaks.

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