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Families sue over deaths in Michigan furniture store explosion

Wrongful death actions brought against natural gas utility

WAYNE, Mich. — The families of two people killed in a furniture store explosion here have sued a utility company for failing to evacuate the area following an apparent natural gas leak, according to a report by the Detroit Free Press.

William Franks, a furniture store here, exploded in the morning hours of Dec. 29, trapping owner Paul Franks, who remains in the hospital in fair condition, and killing employees James Zell and Leslie Machniak.

The wrongful death suit alleges that Consumer Energy, a supplier of natural gas to the store and surrounding area, was negligent in not evacuating the area following residents' complaints of a gas smell, the story said. An attorney representing the family said the gas leak was near the store and that gas likely seeped into a sewer main that led to the showroom.

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