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


  • JEng

    Hasn’t the building owner’s insurance company been contacted? I think the building owner was sued by at least one person. The City AND Con Ed have cause to point fingers at the building owner because there was an existing violation that wasn’t fixed when the property transferred in the divorce and a distant eyewitness Christopher Grande described for either Channel 4 or 5 that the top blowing off the cake effect looked like something he had seen in war zones. Maybe all those witnesses like the landlord’s own piano store employee can be useful in telling us whether this was something about the building itself and not a problem with Con Ed.

    Con ed shut us down and LOCKED us out when a tenant called in a gas leak after the fire and they never found the leak and we had to do a repiping anyway to get Con ed to turn us back on so I wouldn’t agree that Con Ed is unprofessional and inattentive.

    I think all that quick compensation from Con Ed was out of kindness and not about guilt. I don’t think there’s proof that the City should be sued at all – even though I would certainly hate to have this happen to me. I think the City is seen as a big Wuss now with regard to lawsuits.