Utility sued over downtown Bozeman blast

2009-09-18T23:10:00Z Utility sued over downtown Bozeman blastThe Associated Press The Associated Press
September 18, 2009 11:10 pm  • 

BOZEMAN - American Legion Post 14 is suing NorthWestern Energy after the post's building was destroyed in a natural-gas explosion in March that leveled half a block of downtown and killed a woman.

The post and Tom Jones, a post member and manager of the building and bar, filed the lawsuit Thursday in District Court in Gallatin County. Jones was in the bar at the time of the explosion and suffered back and ankle injuries and partial hearing loss. He also lost his job.

The lawsuit names NorthWestern and Leonard Leveaux, the company's senior manager of gas system integrity for Bozeman.

"Long before March 5, 2009, (the company and Leveaux) knew, based on their experience, threaded connectors pose particular hazards when used in service lines because they are susceptible to the initiation of cracks, failures and leaks," the lawsuit says. "Despite this knowledge, NorthWestern and Leveaux ... chose not to institute a program to replace the hazardous service lines in downtown Bozeman with safe lines, without threaded connectors."

The March explosion killed Montana Trails Gallery employee Tara Reistad Bowman, 36, and destroyed several businesses.

NorthWestern has said a separation on a 2-inch NorthWestern service line between the main gas line and the meter for the Montana Trails Gallery caused the blast.

In August, NorthWestern issued a news release saying that "there was no evidence from the condition of the service line or (threaded) fitting that suggested they were defective or had been assembled or installed properly."

"The portion of the fracture surface in the pipe threads ... was bright and shiny, indicating that it was a very recent fracture which occurred either shortly before or as a result of the explosion," the statement said.

Claudia Rapkoch, spokeswoman for Northwestern Energy, said she could not comment on the lawsuit because the company had not seen it.

"We will certainly take a look at the complaint and will respond accordingly," she said.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

More from the Gazette

Political Practices Commissioner Motl faces Senate confirmation

Political Practices Commissioner Motl faces Senate confirmation

5 minutes agoLoading…
House, Senate panels reject campaign finance reporting bills

House, Senate panels reject campaign finance reporting bills

5 minutes agoLoading…
Cold-weather birding often a hot pursuit

Cold-weather birding often a hot pursuit

4 hours agoLoading…
ND oil workers see hours cut as oil prices slump

ND oil workers see hours cut as oil prices slump

6 hours ago Photos

Photos

Loading…
Downtown Missoula rampage preceded head-on crash

Downtown Missoula rampage preceded head-on crash

14 hours agoLoading…
Oil spill near Glendive latest in string of Casper company's pipeline breaks

Oil spill near Glendive latest in string of Casper company's pipeline breaks

18 hours ago Photos

Photos

Loading…
Just chill: Your guide to ice fishing

Just chill: Your guide to ice fishing

19 hours agoLoading…

Hardin man charged with assault, child abuse

January 30, 2015 2:42 pmLoading…

Lame Deer man accused of sexual abuse

January 30, 2015 2:31 pmLoading…

Woman denies assault charges

January 30, 2015 2:24 pmLoading…

ATM taken from Polson bank

January 30, 2015 1:32 pmLoading…

Follow The Billings Gazette

Popular Stories

Get weekly ads via e-mail

Deals & Offers

Featured Businesses