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Pond Lane building owner names Vermont Gas, contractor in lawsuit

MIDDLEBURY — Vermont Gas officials said they anticipate quick resolution to a recent lawsuit filed by an insurance company seeking reimbursement for a claim it paid for cleaning up a building at 38 Pond Lane, Middlebury, after an on-site water/sewer line ruptured while a contractor was installing a natural gas line at the property on Oct. 22, 2014.
Sentinel Insurance Co. filed the lawsuit in Chittenden Superior Court on Oct. 9 of this year. Details became public after the three listed defendants accepted service of the complaint on Nov. 15. Sentinel is naming Vermont Gas, it’s contractor Northeast Underground, and the town of Middlebury as defendants.
Bat Re Inc. is listed as the owner of 38 Pond Lane, a structure that houses several tenants, including Seedsheet and Geiger of Austria.
Sentinel alleges in its complaint:
•  A “water and/or sewage line was negligently ruptured by defendant Northeast Underground, which caused substantial flooding” into the building located on the Pond Lane property.
•  The flooding caused “significant damage” to the building and its contents.
•  Northeast Underground was performing work under contract with Vermont Gas and as “an agent” of the town of Middlebury.
•  The town of Middlebury “approved and authorized” the work, “including means and methods of performance.”
Sentinel, in its lawsuit, said it paid off the property owner’s damages claim and is now seeking to get reimbursement from the defendants.
The complaint does not include the specific amount it is seeking to recoup. The company is asking the court for “all costs associated with this action,” including legal fees.
The Middlebury selectboard on Nov. 28 went into executive session to discuss a legal matter, but it’s not clear whether the Sentinel issue was the subject of that discussion. The board didn’t take any action following its executive session, according to Middlebury Town Manager Kathleen Ramsay.
Vermont Gas spokesperson Elizabeth Parent provided the following statement about the Sentinel complaint:
“In 2014, while working to install pipe in the town of Middlebury, the contractor is alleged to have accidentally hit a sewer line. We believe the work was immediately repaired that same evening. The contractor is expected to take full responsibility, as appropriate, and is working to resolve this issue.”
Asked whether Vermont Gas had encountered any other water/sewer line mishaps as it continued to install its Addison Natural Gas Project pipeline, Parents said, “Under normal construction activities, we work with our contractors to ensure the safe and efficient installation of pipe, including identifying the location of sewer lines and other buried infrastructure. In a few instances, contractors have impacted sewer lines and on those few occasions, the contractor immediately worked to repair the issue.”
In this Pond Lane case, the contractor repaired the damaged water/sewer line, according to Parent.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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