Scott MacLean stands on the front steps of his family’s trailer that was destroyed by the LEAP building explosion as residents were allowed back in to pick up personal items on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

FARMINGTON — A Madison man and owner of a mobile home park and residential units damaged in a propane explosion in 2019 has filed a lawsuit against two companies and a nonprofit connected to the fatal blast.

Randall Dean, sole owner of NorthPoint Properties, filed the suit Nov. 3 in Franklin County Superior Court. Dean and NorthPoint are owners of real estate known as Evergreen Knoll Mobile Home Park and 11 residential home units on Evergreen Lane.

The housing units stood behind the LEAP Inc. building at 313 Farmington Falls Road when it was blown apart on Sept. 16, 2019, leaving 30 residents homeless.

The lawsuit names Techno Metal Post Maine, LEAP Inc. and CN Brown Energy Inc. as defendants. It claims Dean and NorthPoint suffered significant damage to mobile homes, lost rental income and the expense for transporting and setting up replacement homes, and cleaning up the site.

The lawsuit follows suits filed by Larry Lord and his wife, Sandy Lord of Jay, and the Estate of Capt. Michael Bell, who was killed in the explosion, and six Farmington firefighters who were injured. That suit names Techno Metal Post of Manchester and CN Brown based in South Paris. The lawsuits were filed on Oct. 19 and Oct. 20, respectively. LEAP Inc. maintenance supervisor, Larry Lord was critically injured in the blast and is still recovering from his injuries. Attorneys for defendants had not filed answers to the complaints as of Tuesday.

Dean’s lawsuit cites negligence by all three defendants. LEAP allegedly failed to ensure that a competent person inspected the premises to determine the location of underground hazards prior to allowing Techno Metal Post to installing bollards. It alleges Techno Post failed to verify the location of the underground propane line prior to installing the bollards. It also claims that CN Brown breached the reasonable care duty by failing to conduct a leak check after filling the propane tank as required by law.

The lawsuit also cites strict liability counts for both Techno Metal Post for not properly identifying and marking underground utilities and CN Brown Energy Inc. for filling a propane tank and not conducting a leak check.

The suit demands judgment against all three defendants for such damages as are reasonable, costs and other relief the court deems proper.

Dean’s suit claims that at the time of the explosion, LEAP was renovating and expanding its building on its property.

“LEAP, through its employees, conducted construction activities on the (Life Enrichment Advancing People) property in violation of Maine’s Dig Safe law and legal obligations, according to the lawsuit.

In the spring of 2019, CN Brown installed a large propane tank and underground supply line at the LEAP property in order to sell propane to LEAP. It fueled the building’s hot water system via the supply line that ran from the tank under the parking lot to the building.

On Sept. 10, 2019, Techno Metal’s employee installed four bollards in the parking lot of the LEAP property for the purpose of protecting an outside air conditioning unit adjacent to a building on the LEAP property. The suit claims that prior to installing the bollards, Techno Metal and its employee failed to identify the location of the underground utilities and comply with its legal obligations.

An enforcement investigator for the Maine Public Utilities Commission cited Techno Post in December for not properly notifying Dig Safe of excavation and not properly premarking the area of excavation. The company agreed to pay the $1,000 fine but it was not an admission to or agreement to legal conclusions cited in the notice of enforcement.

State fire investigators investigation revealed that one of the bollards severed the propane line and caused the propane leak.

The lawsuit alleges the auger heads to which the bollards are attached were drilled through the parking lot pavement and into the ground and at least one severed the underground propane line, resulting in a propane leak.

Subsequently, LEAP employees discovered the building had no hot water and reported it to CN Brown and the propane tank was empty.

On Sept. 13, 2019, CN Brown dispatched an employee, a propane and natural gas technician, to refill LEAP’s tank. The tank was filled with approximately 391 gallons of propane. The employee was cited by the Maine Fuel Board for not conducting a leak check of the system after filling the tank.

The propane leaked from the tank over the weekend and on Sept. 16 the building exploded. Lord ushered out employees on that morning and called for the Fire Rescue Department after smelling propane. The building exploded shortly after firefighters arrived.

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