Yesterday’s blast in Manhattan’s Flatiron District in the area of 21st Street and Fifth Avenue reminded many of us of the blasts in 1989 and 2007, particularly those involved in litigating those matters.
On August 19, 1989, there was a steam pipe explosion in Gramercy Park. A twenty-four inch Con Edison steam pipe exploded, killing three people - two of whom were Con Edison employees - and injuring twenty-four. Many buildings in the area had to be evacuated and there was substantial property loss by both the tenants in those buildings and businesses in the area.
There was another steam pipe explosion on July 18, 2007 near Grand Central Terminal, killing one person and injuring numerous people.
The injury law firm of Jaroslawicz & Jaros PLLC was lead counsel to the building owner and approximately thirty tenants damaged by the 1989 explosion, and to several individuals, including other lawyers in the 2007 explosion.
Criminal charges were brought against Con Edison in the United States District Court in Manhattan for concealing from the federal authorities that asbestos had been released into the air when the steam pipe exploded in 1989. During trial, Con Edison finally pleaded guilty. For the New York Times article about the Con Edison cover-up: https://www.nytimes.com/1994/11/01/nyregion/con-ed-admits-to-conspiracy-to-cover-up-asbestos-in-blast.html
In the 1989 explosion, many of the residents in the Gramercy Park area were displaced from August until at least Thanksgiving, some until months later. While the matter was in the media and being watched over by the media, Con Edison provided an allowance to displaced persons for a hotel room or to rent a reasonable apartment, as well as emergency personal expenses for food, clothing, toiletries, etc., without the need for a lawsuit. Hopefully, they will do the same in this tragedy.
These cases involving numerous people are usually consolidated before one judge; in the case of today’s explosion, it will probably be in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of New York.
Unfortunately, for those suffering only economic loss, the Court of Appeals - the highest court in New York - ruled in 2001 that people in the area of an explosion - or in that case it was a crane collapse - could not recover for economic loss only because the burden would be too great.
In the case of 532Madison Avenue Gourmet foods, Inc. v. Finlandia Center, Inc., 96 N.Y.2d 280 (2001), the court ruled that those who suffered only economic loss could not recover because there was no way the court could limit the geographic area and therefore no one could get anything. However, those who suffered property damage, personal injury, or unfortunately death, could recover. It was only those businesses and individuals who were inconvenienced and/or had only economic loss which caused them to close, that the law would not permit to recover anything at all.
If you believe the City of New York is responsible in any way, you have ninety days to file a notice of claim. Against anyone else, it is usually three years.