Sun Prairie residents who lost property during gas explosion file lawsuit

Nine Sun Prairie residents have filed a lawsuit against the companies they said played a role in last summer’s deadly gas explosion.

The lawsuit was filed in Dane County Circuit Court on Friday against VC Tech, Bear Communications, Verizon, We Energies and USIC Locating Services.

The lawsuit stated these companies failed to properly locate a gas line on July 10, 2018. The gas line was then punctured during the installation of fiber-optic lines. The explosion that happened was a result of this leak, but its actual ignition source was never determined. No criminal charges were filed in the explosion either.

One firefighter, Capt. Cory Barr, died in the explosion and two others were hurt. Several buildings and homes in downtown Sun Prairie were leveled as a result of the explosion, including the Barr House, a bar owned by Barr and his wife, Abigail.

Sun Prairie residents who lost property during gas explosion file lawsuit

Dozens of residents were displaced by the explosion. The nine plaintiffs all lost their homes and property in the explosion.

“It’s been a traumatic experience, to lose most of your belongings in an accident like this that we believe could have and should have certainly been prevented,” said Randall Gold, a lawyer with Fox & Fox representing the group.

The plaintiffs are Angela Levendoski, Melissa Buckingham, Antonio Hurtado, Heather Schmidt, Trent Kremeier, Barry Mahlum, Patty Mahlum, Valerie Jo Lebo and Edward Urfer.

“They’ve had to literally start over. They’ve lost virtually all of their belongings and personal property,” Gold said.

Gold said his clients were renting their homes. One couple has children. Some have chosen to stay in the area while others have moved, including one client who has left the state.

“Their lives have been turned upside down,” Gold said.

The lawsuit said the residents have suffered significant economic losses, anxiety, inconvenience, hardship, discomfort, disruption for their personal and family lives, as well as substantial property loss and lost work-related income.

Sun Prairie residents who lost property during gas explosion file lawsuit

Four other lawsuits stemming from last summer’s explosion have been filed in Dane County Circuit Court.

Abigail Barr filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of her husband. The two firefighters injured in the explosion and the city of Sun Prairie have also filed lawsuits. Those four cases have all been consolidated.

Gold said it’s unclear as of now if this case will be consolidated into the existing case. The new lawsuit is not a class action lawsuit, and others who were directly affected by the explosion could still submit legal claims.

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