Former Scores strip club property owner settles with Columbia Gas after 2012 Springfield explosion

  • Better GIS

Nearly three years after a natural gas explosion sent exotic dancers and the staff of Scores scrambling for cover, stripper shoes and rubble sailing in a plume over the downtown, the owner of the building at 453 Worthington St. has reached a settlement with Columbia Gas.

According to records in Hampden Superior Court, a lawsuit filed by property owner Russell Shaddock has been dismissed. Daniel D. Kelly, Shaddock’s attorney, confirmed there had been a settlement in the case but would not disclose the details pursuant to a confidentiality agreement with the gas company.

“It settled during litigation, which is not unusual,” Kelly said.

The building was blown sky high when a gas company employee accidentally punctured an underground line while probing a leak. The strip club was evacuated and none of the employees were hurt, but the structure was obliterated in the explosion directly beneath it. There were no deaths as a result of the blast, but 20 emergency personnel and other bystanders were injured.

Plus, the disaster had widespread effects on downtown businesses and residential properties in a neighborhood already grappling with urban blight.

Shaddock sued the company for $1 million, arguing the blast deprived him of what was essentially his retirement account. He had a promised 20 years of lease payments coming from the owners of the business, Helesant, Inc., according to his complaint.

That entity also has sued the gas company for $5 million; that lawsuit is still pending.

The disaster left both the building and business owners in a weird predicament because the building had housed strip clubs for the past 35 years and was protected from a 2003 city ordinance banning the establishment of any more strip clubs in Springfield. Shaddock was prohibited from rebuilding and re-leasing it to his previous tenant, Helen Santaniello; and she, in turn, was blocked from relocating the business anywhere else in the city.

Scores was located a flew blocks from two other strip clubs: the Mardi Gras and Center Stage.

Shaddock, a machinist from Springfield, in 2014 lamented that the blast not only flattened the building but his financial future as well.

“I put my life savings into it. That building was everything I had – my retirement. Now I’m flat broke,” he said when the lawsuit was filed.

The gas company has recently declined to say how much it has paid out in settlements connected to the explosion, but in 2013 a spokeswoman said it had paid “millions and millions” to property owners and others just a year after it occurred.

Sheila Doiron, communications director for Columbia Gas, could not immediately be reached for comment but said previously that the company had “made Shaddock whole” in the wake of the blast by paying the rental payments he would have received from Scores.

According to MassLive.com on September 22nd, 2015

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