Disasters / Emergencies, Nude Dancing

Who’s Liable for This Massachusetts Strip Club Explosion?

Springfield, Massachusetts, is a city that’s home to the Basketball Hall of Fame, and my alma mater, Western New England University School of Law. I had the (dis)pleasure of living in Springfield for five years, and from earthquakes to tornadoes to purse snatchings, I thought that I had seen it all. Boy, was I wrong!

Apparently I escaped the slums of downtown Springfield just in time to avoid a stripper explosion (not an actual stripper explosion; that would be glittery and fabulous). No, as you may have heard over the holiday weekend, there was a massive natural gas explosion in Springfield that leveled a strip club, damaging numerous other buildings in the city’s entertainment district, about two blocks over from my old apartment.

At first, no one knew what could have caused the gas leak that triggered the blast, but now fingers are being pointed every which way. This may sound like a 1L Torts hypothetical, but who’s liable for the explosion?

Did the strippers grind so hard on the pole that they ignited a spark that set the blaze? Did the babies shrieking in the daycare center next door to the strip club (yes, seriously) inspire a childcare worker to light a match and burn that mother down?

Let’s get some insights from our readers on who will be held ultimately responsible for this calamity….

Before we dig in, here’s some video of the explosion from WWLP 22 News (it happens at 26 seconds in):

RAW VIDEO: Downtown Springfield gas explosion

In the aftermath of the explosion, the blame has been cast upon an unfortunate utility worker for puncturing a gas line. The utility worker, in turn, blames the affair on incorrect markings on the ground that detailed the line’s location, presumably drawn by the utility company many years prior. Earlier in time, perhaps the city was involved in the permitting and laying of those gas lines. It’s all being chalked up to “human error,” but no one is quite sure whose. And now, the investigation has been turned over to the state Department of Public Utilities.

With all of these prospective parties, who will be the one whose name lands on the caption of the lawsuit that is sure to follow? Feel free to speculate in the comments, and sound off on the theories of liability under which they may be held responsible for the damage. I’ll even get you started: respondeat superior.

Have fun. First-year law students, consider this early exam prep for your upcoming Torts final.

Gas worker blamed in strip club blast [WWLP 22 News]

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