Yates Gas Facing Lawsuits Over 2020 Home Explosion On Woodbury Lane

David Creed •

Woodbury Home Explosion
The aftermath of the Home Explosion On Woodbury Lane in 2020. Photo by Bill Hoenk.

Yates Gas is facing lawsuits from two insurance companies over the 2020 home explosion on Woodbury Lane that destroyed a residence and damaged numerous neighboring houses.

Privilege Underwriters Reciprocal Exchange (PURE) Insurance is seeking over $590,000 in damages from Yates Gas and the homeowners of 13 Woodbury Lane, according to a complaint filed last week in Nantucket Superior Court. An earlier lawsuit filed in May by Indian Harbor Insurance Company, which insured 11 Woodbury Lane, is seeking $3 million in damages for negligence as well, which the company said led to the explosion.

The most recent suit states that PURE provided insurance to homeowners at 12 Woodbury Lane, 7 Woodbury Lane, 27 Woodbury Lane, and 6 Grove Lane for the damages caused by the explosion. They also provided auto insurance to the homeowners of 12 Woodbury Lane.

PURE says in the lawsuit that Pat and Amy Augustine, the homeowners at 13 Woodbury Lane at the time, owned an underground propane tank at their home. PURE says that in June of 2020 the Augustines reported a gas odor to Yates Gas, however Yates did not determine the source of the gas odor when they inspected the scene.

“Upon information and belief, Yates subsequently filled the tank with approximately 65 gallons of propane in or around October of 2020,” the suit says. “There was an explosion at 11 Woodbury Lane on or about November 12, 2020. The explosion was caused by a leak at the tank. The tank developed a corrosion hole over time because it did not have corrosion protection. Propane leaked at the corrosion hole of the tank and migrated to 11 Woodbury where it collected in the structure and eventually ignited resulting in the explosion.”

Yates Gas did not return a message seeking comment.

PURE went on to state that each of the four homeowners sustained damage to their real and personal properties as a result of the explosion.

“PURE’s insureds submitted insurance claims to PURE seeking recovery of their losses arising from the explosion and ensuing damage,” PURE says in its lawsuit. “PURE made payments in excess of $595,000 to or on behalf of its insured to repair/replace property damaged by the explosion and other related expenses.”

The suit contains two counts, both for negligence, with one against the Augustines and the other against Yates Gas.

In PURE’s claim against the Augustines, they said the explosion and resulting damages sustained by PURE’s insureds were directly and proximately caused by the “negligence, gross negligence, and/or recklessness” of the Augustines.

“As the owner of 13 Woodbury, the Augustines owed a duty to exercise due and reasonable care in maintaining the tank in compliance with all applicable laws, codes, and industry standards,” PURE says.

PURE went on to say that the Augustines negligently and carelessly breached its duty of care in one or more of the following ways:

- Owning and operating an underground propane tank that did not have corrosion protection.

- Not complying with all laws, codes, and standards.

- Failing to ensure the tank did not present a dangerous condition to neighboring properties.

- Failing to hire competent contractors to inspect, service, and maintain the tank.

- Failing to take reasonable steps to ensure that the tank did not leak propane gas and risk harm to neighboring properties.

As for Yates Gas, PURE alleges that when they serviced and/or supplied propane to the tank at 13 Woodbury, they owed a duty to perform and supervise all the work in a safe, proper, and workmanlike manner in accordance with codes and industry standards. However, PURE accuses Yates Gas of “carelessly and negligently” breaching its duty of care in several ways including:

- Failing to ensure the tank’s corrosion protection system complied with code prior to beginning propane delivery services.

- Failing to properly inspect the tank.

- Failing to test the tank for cathodic protection when it performed these services at the property.

- Failing to properly inspect the tank after the reported gas odor at 13 Woodbury.

- Supplying propane to an underground propane tank that did not have corrosion protection.

- Filling the tank with propane without inspecting the tank for dangerous and hazardous conditions.

- Performing and furnishing services in an inadequate, unsafe, and negligent manner.

- Failing to otherwise take due and reasonable steps to ensure that the tank did not leak propane gas.

In both counts, PURE states that they are seeking recovery for the $595,000 in sustained damages to the insured’s properties, as well as the costs, interests, attorney’s fees, and any other relief the Court deems appropriate for the negligent, reckless, and careless conduct of Yates Gas and the Augustines.

A jury trial has been requested by the plaintiffs on all claims. Neither Yates Gas nor the Augustines have filed a counterclaim and/or rebuttal of this lawsuit, however if one is filed the Current will report it.

This story will be updated.

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