SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

December 10, 2012

Civil action may decide fate of $100K

Money is left over from blast settlement

(Continued)

More than three years ago, members of the Danversport Trust filed a class-action lawsuit against Kentucky-based Ashland Chemical, alleging in court documents that the company delivered chemicals to the plant the day before the explosion, despite the facility lacking the necessary permits and licenses to store them in such large quantities. Ashland denied playing any role in the explosion, saying state and federal investigations never implicated the company in its findings.

“Hopefully, the lawsuit will further compensate people,” Tropeano said.

Schlichtmann said Ashland is trying to have the case dismissed, but he is arguing that the case should move ahead. Schlichtmann said he may know more by the end of this month and schedule a meeting of the trust in January. He described the case against Ashland as “compelling.”

“This is not how we should be supplying bulk chemicals,” he said.

Not everyone agrees, however.

“I think we should end this thing and move on,” said Bates Street resident Ann Marie Ruotolo.

Ruotolo said that since the blast, many residents who suffered damage have died or moved away.

“I think the lawsuit against Ashland is a lost cause, and I don’t think it’s connected” to the $100,000 left in the trust, said Ruotolo, who received compensation from the initial settlement, though she is not a member of the trust.

With times being tough, it makes sense to distribute the remaining money to the blast victims now, she added.

The $100,000 comes from a $7 million settlement that was funded by insurers for the owners of the plant property. The money was shared among various parties, the Danversport Trust, others who suffered damages, and insurance companies who paid damage claims. These insurers filed lawsuits in the names of those who suffered damage to recoup money they paid in claims, more than $20 million at the time of the settlement. Estimates are that the blast caused $30 million in damage.

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