Three Columbus firefighters who were severely injured five years ago by a Hilltop gas explosion have settled their civil lawsuit against the company that caused the explosion.
Patrick Malone, Barbara Capuana and Dan Whiteside have reached a mutual resolution of damages with George J. Igel & Co., said Robert Wagoner, one of two attorneys who represented the firefighters. A Franklin County Common Pleas jury last year found Igel & Co. responsible for the explosion, which sent a ball of fire out of the roof and front door of the Cherry Box adult bookstore at 2326 W. Broad St. shortly before 3 p.m. on Oct. 31, 2008. After extensive testimony, the jury concluded that Igel workers struck a natural-gas line that day as they were drilling holes for waterlines under a contract with the city of Columbus. The line leaked gas into the Cherry Box, and the gas ignited in the building, causing the explosion. Malone, Capuana and Whiteside had just arrived and were walking around the building when it exploded, tossing each of them into the air and then slamming them down. Malone had severe burns on his hands and face; Capuana had twisted vertebrae, knee injuries and injuries to ligaments and tendons in one arm; and Whiteside had a cervical neck tear, a torn meniscus in one knee and a bruised kidney.