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Attorneys: Fatal apartment explosion suit settled confidentially

Emergency personnel clear out a basement room of an apartment building following a fire in Silver Spring, Md., Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Emergency personnel clear out a basement room of an apartment building following a fire in Silver Spring, Md., Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

ROCKVILLE — Families affected by a fatal apartment explosion in Silver Spring settled their lawsuit with the management company and Washington Gas and Light Company on Friday.

Seven people were killed and dozens more were injured on Aug. 10, 2016, when two apartment buildings were destroyed by a gas explosion. Dozens of lawsuits against Kay Management Co. and Washington Gas were filed and eventually consolidated in an omnibus complaint.

The case was scheduled for a 15-day jury trial next month in Montgomery County Circuit Court, but attorneys told Judge Ronald B. Rubin Friday that the matter had been resolved by confidential settlement before a scheduled hearing on pretrial motions.

Michael X. Imbroscio, an attorney with Covington & Burling LLP in Washington, who is representing Washington Gas, said the parties would finalize the agreement soon and assured Rubin there was “very little chance” the deal would fall apart.

While details of the settlement were not available, Imbroscio said the parties will work on a joint public statement, to be made at a later date. He declined to provide further details after the hearing.

Rubin asked the parties to provide an update on the status of the case next week.

The plaintiffs were represented by attorneys from Washington law firms Regan Zambri Long PLLC, Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel PC, and Bailey & Glasser LLP.

The lawsuit alleged negligence by both Kay Management and Washington Gas caused the explosion. Multiple residents reported smelling gas in the weeks before the incident, but the gas company was not alerted, according to the complaint, which alleged residents were told either that Washington Gas had been notified or that the smell was from fresh paint and other repairs.

Kay Management also changed the lock to a meter room and did not make a new key available to the fire department, as required by law, according to the complaint. Firefighters investigating the smell of gas before the explosion could not get to the meter room.

A Washington Gas employee disconnected a regulator from a vent line before the explosion, according to the complaint, allowing natural gas to accumulate in the meter room. The company was also accused of failing to properly conduct inspections on the property.

The National Transportation Safety Board in April blamed the explosion on failed Washington Gas equipment. An unconnected line and failed regulator caused the leak, according to an NTSB news release, and the investigation “highlighted serious flaws in the inspection of service regulators.”

The Maryland Public Services Commission issued an order in September requiring Washington Gas to file a plan describing how it would implement the NTSB’s recommendations to improve its procedures.

The case is Selvin Rosales et al. v. Washington Gas Light Company et al., 426972V.

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