SALEM, Mass. — A North Andover woman is the latest to file a legal claim against Columbia Gas of Massachusetts and its parent company, NiSource Inc., as a result of the Sept. 13, 2018 gas explosions and fires in the Merrimack Valley.

Nelinda San Antonio of 70 May St., North Andover, filed paperwork in small claims court against Columbia Gas for loss of the utility for two months and bills she incurred due to the use of electric heaters while she had no gas, she wrote. 

In the claim, which is included among 15 other lawsuits filed against the utility in Salem Superior Court since the disaster, San Antonio cites "endangering the life of my family, emotional distress, pain and suffering (due to talking cold showers and being fearful), food costs and gas costs from driving to get hot food."

She asked for $7,000 in damages and unspecified legal costs in court documents. She declined to comment on her claim when reached Tuesday. 

A Columbia Gas spokesperson said the company does not comment on ongoing litigation. 

In mid-January, a judge consolidated the lawsuits facing Columbia Gas and NiSource Inc, which streamlines the process of those affected by the gas disaster. 

The orders from Essex County Superior Court Judge James Lang also encourage the plaintiffs and the gas companies to settle, rather than proceed with litigation, which could take years. 

The gas fires and explosions that erupted across Lawrence, Andover and North Andover killed Lawrence teenager Leonel Rondon, 18, injured two dozen others and left more than 100 homes damaged or destroyed.

The destruction, which affected thousands, was blamed on over pressurization of gas lines. 

All of the gas lawsuits are specially assigned to Lang. 

At least eight of the cases now will be part of aggregate proceedings, including those filed by Dean and Mona Thornhill, the owners of a North Andover home where a day care business operated, according to court documents.

The Thornhill's home sustained $500,000 in smoke and fire damage, the day care business was forced to close and family members have suffered from "mental anguish and undue stress which manifests itself as physical conditions including but not limited to insomnia, digestive problems and headaches," according to the lawsuit.

Four lawsuits will proceed as "individual cases," according to the court documents, including a civil lawsuit from Lawrence residents Homayoun and Juana Maali, and one involving Omayra Figueroa of Lawrence and her children.

Omayra and her daughter Shakira, 21, were in their 35 Chickering St. house that afternoon when multiple explosions occurred. 

Shakira was critically injured when the family's home exploded. Shakira suffered extensive leg injuries and has undergone multiple surgeries, according to the family attorney. 

The class- and mass-action lawsuits have now been consolidated under Francely Acosta v. Columbia Gas of Mass. and NiSource Inc., the first lawsuit to be filed.

Staff reporter Julie Manganis contributed to this story. 

Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill. 

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