NorthWestern Faces 10th Lawsuit Over Bozeman Blast

By Beacon Staff

BOZEMAN – A 10th lawsuit has been filed against NorthWestern Energy over the March 5 natural-gas explosion that killed one woman and destroyed half a city block.

Sanks Family Limited Partnership, which owns one of the Main Street buildings affected by the blast, sued the company and Leonard Leveaux, its senior manager of gas system integrity.

The lawsuit says NorthWestern was negligent in failing to “inspect and ensure the integrity of its gas service lines” and for not replacing the line that is thought have caused the explosion. It also says Leveaux “knew that the gas pipelines were not constructed and maintained to prevent the escape of gas.”

NorthWestern says inspections of the line before the blast did not suggest it was at risk of fracturing, and the crack probably “occurred either shortly before or as a result of the explosion.”

The blast killed 36-year-old Bozeman resident Tara Reistad Bowman, who was working in a downtown gallery.