A lawsuit by families of victims of a fatal 2016 Flower Branch Apartments fire in Silver Spring, which killed 7, is close to a settlement, the families’ lead attorney said.
The August 2016 fire destroyed two apartment buildings and was caused by a natural gas explosion. Seven people died and nearly 70 were injured.
In April, an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board concluded that faulty gas venting equipment was likely the cause of the explosion. The NTSB said that Virginia-based Washington Gas was responsible for maintaining the vent where the explosion occurred. Washington Gas has denied responsibility for the explosion.
In the years since the fire, the victims’ families have filed multiple lawsuits against Kay Management, the management company for Flower Branch, and against Washington Gas. The lawsuits have been consolidated into one case.
The Maryland Daily Record reported Friday that attorneys on both sides told Judge Ronald Rubin in Montgomery County Circuit Court that the case has been resolved through a confidential settlement.
Patrick Regan, the lead attorney representing the families, said in an interview Monday that the attorneys from all parties involved have come to a verbal agreement “in principle,” but it has not finalized in writing. A 15-day trial is scheduled to begin in two weeks, he said, but he expects the case to be resolved before then.
“The parties are working hard to bring it to a conclusion, but there’s always loose ends. I think the expectation is that all the claims will be resolved before trial,” he said.
Regan said he didn’t doubt that there would be a settlement, but if there isn’t one, the case will go to trial as scheduled starting Dec. 2. Jury selection is also scheduled for that day.
Regan declined to elaborate on details of the potential settlement.
Kay Management President Clark Melillo said Monday that he has “no comment until a settlement has been made.”
Michael Imbroscio, an attorney representing Washington Gas, could not be reached for comment Monday.
Dan Schere can be reached at Daniel.firstname.lastname@example.org