The Real Deal New York

City could face $1B payout for East Harlem explosion

Hundreds plan to sue over deaths, injuries and property damage caused by building collapse
December 29, 2014 04:35PM

The city may be facing over $1 billion in legal claims over the Harlem gas line explosion that killed eight people in March.

Claims against the city range from property damage to wrongful death. The city Comptroller’s Office has received 205 notices of intent to sue, according to DNAinfo. People including victims’ family members and first responders have filed the notifications.

Con Edison, which owns the 100-year-old gas lines under the building, filed its own notice, stating that “third parties may assume [they] are responsible,” according to the website.

The March 12 explosion at 1644 and 1646 Park Avenue in East Harlem destroyed two buildings and displaced hundreds, in addition to causing eight deaths.

Robert Vilensky, a lawyer who represents roughly 10 people injured in the accident, said he expects the high number of similar cases to be consolidated and heard by one judge.

“The process takes a long time,” Vilensky said. “I suspect the consolidation of the cases will take place sometime in 2015.”

Many lawyers are holding off filing lawsuits until the National Transportation Safety Board’s final report comes out. Though preliminary tests suggested the explosion was caused by a natural gas leak, the report has not been completed. [DNAinfo] — Tess Hofmann