EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

August 23, 2013

Settlement may be reached in fireworks explosion

By John Toole
jtoole@eagletribune.com

---- — PELHAM — A proposed settlement would end a lawsuit stemming from last year’s fireworks explosion that injured 13 people.

The $38,500 agreement, on file at Hillsborough County Superior Court South in Nashua, would provide an annuity for Olivia Foy, the nearly 2-year-old daughter of Marci Ann and Patrick Foy of Greenfield.

She was treated for burns at Shriners Hospital in Boston in the aftermath of the explosion.

The annuity would give Olivia more than $24,000 on both her 22nd and 25th birthdays.

The settlement also would pay about $17,000 toward medical expenses and about $9,600 in attorney fees.

The court must approve the deal.

The Foys brought the lawsuit against Christopher and Jeanne Pappathan, who hosted the neighborhood Independence Day party at their Pelham home.

“The events of July 3, 2012 were extremely horrific for my family and friends,” Jeanne Pappathan said yesterday while reading a statement prepared with their attorney. “My insurance carrier was able to reach out to all the injured and settle various claims.”

Lawsuits being filed are required under state law to resolve claims made on behalf of injured children and must be approved by a judge, she said.

An attorney representing the Foys did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

The Foys were among more than 20 people attending the party.

“A firework spun and lifted into the air and landed in the pile of fireworks on the deck,” the lawsuit said.

Officials have characterized what happened next as the worst fireworks accident in state history.

“Total chaos ensued with screaming and crying as massive injuries were caused to many people at the scene,” the lawsuit said.

Marci Ann Foy is Pappathan’s niece. The lawsuit said she dove down the stairs, which were engulfed in fire, while holding Olivia.

Christopher Pappathan, in written testimony, told a New Hampshire House committee last winter he was shocked how rapidly the mortar shells exploded.

Pappathan said the 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 wrote lawmakers.

He supports a ban on reloadable mortars and aerial spinners, both fireworks lawmakers may outlaw.

The state Fire Marshal’s Office ruled the explosion accidental. Investigators removed more than 90 boxes of fireworks from the home.

The family this year abandoned the fireworks show, which had become a neighborhood tradition.

The Legislature is studying whether fireworks regulations should be tightened because of the Pelham explosion. The state Fire Marshal’s Office supports stricter regulation.

A report is expected to be issued this fall with recommendations for the Legislature.