By John Toole
---- — PELHAM — A family who suffered serious burns in a fireworks explosion at a neighborhood Fourth of July party last year have sued the homeowners.
The lawsuit brought by Marci Ann and Patrick Foy of Greenfield names homeowners Christopher and Jeanne Pappathan. The Foys also seek damages for their toddler daughter Olivia.
The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in Hillsborough County Superior Court-South in Nashua by Nashua attorney David Gottesman. It seeks damages for pain, suffering, lost wages, permanent injuries and medical expenses.
The Pappathans have 30 days to respond.
The Foys were among about 20 people who attended the party where officials said 13 people, including Christopher Pappathan, suffered injuries.
Some, including the Foys, were severely burned.
The lawsuit alleges the Pappathans failed to keep the fireworks in a safe manner and allowed guests to get too close to them without warning.
The Foys maintain they suffered devastating burns, requiring extensive medical treatment.
Their treatment has included skin grafts, their attorney said.
"The entire family suffered very significant burns," Gottesman said.
He estimated their medical bills thus far at more than $100,000.
Officials have described the incident on July 3, 2013, as the worst fireworks accident in state history.
Investigators removed more than 90 boxes of fireworks from the home afterward.
The lawsuit provides the Foys' account of the disaster.
"In one corner of the deck was a pile of fireworks, taking up an area roughly the size of a pallet," the lawsuit said. "Many, if not most, of the fireworks had been unwrapped from their packaging, and were being prepared for ignition. A firework spun and lifted into the air and landed in the pile of fireworks on the deck."
The fireworks then exploded.
"Total chaos ensued with screaming and crying as massive injuries were caused to many people at the scene," the lawsuit said.
The Foys were right in the middle of it all.
"Patrick Foy, who was holding his daughter, Olivia, at the time, dove down the stairs that (were) engulfed in white fire and landed in the backyard," it said.
Marci Ann Foy, Pappathan's niece, ran down the stairs behind them.
"On the way down the stairs, Marci's flip-flops were blasted right off her feet," the lawsuit said.
A state investigation ruled the explosion accidental.
Christopher Pappathan did not immediately return a phone call yesterday.
But Pappathan provided testimony to a New Hampshire House committee about the explosion last winter.
"I was shocked by how rapidly the mortar shells on my deck exploded," Pappathan told lawmakers. "As I mentioned to the fire marshal, it was as if the shells were coated with gasoline and gunpowder."
Pappathan said the mortar shells had been unpacked and he was about to box them, when he was momentarily distracted.
"I've learned that life can completely change in a matter of seconds," Pappathan said.