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CenterPoint, Minneapolis settle gas explosion lawsuits

Posted by: Alejandra Matos under Businesses in hot water Updated: April 2, 2014 - 1:50 PM

CenterPoint Energy has agreed to pay at least $192,500 to settle a lawsuit filed by the city of Minneapolis and various insurance companies in relation to a gas explosion near a south Minneapolis Cub Foods in 2011.

The majority of the settlement, $170,000, will go to Jerry's Enterprises, which owns the Cub Foods at 60th Street and Nicollet Avenue South. The company sued Minneapolis and CenterPoint last year, but the utility company is the only one required to pay. The remaining $22,500 of the settlement will go to insurance companies.

The March 17, 2011, explosion originated in a gas line running under 60th Street. No one was hurt, but it damaged the facade of the grocery store and dozens of cars parked in the area. Last year, Whistleblower reported how some of the owners of those cars were left in limbo because of the dispute between CenterPoint and the city over who was to blame.

The city of Minneapolis filed a lawsuit a year ago against CenterPoint Energy claiming the Texas-based natural gas company was negligent in maintaining and repairing the pipe. CenterPoint filed a countersuit, claiming the the city failed to maintain sewage and water lines running under the gas line, which created a washout that caused the gas line to bend.

Rebecca Virden, CenterPoint's spokeswoman, said the settlement "expressly provides that no party admits fault, and CenterPoint Energy’s position continues to be that the incident was caused by a washout under 60th Street as a result of the deteriorated and fractured state of the water and sewer system."

Minneapolis' only cost was $22,250 for expert fees, which will not be reimbursed by the settlement.
 

(above, Star Tribune file photo of the blast by Brian Peterson)

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