Are There Dark Days Ahead for Con Edison?

It was an ordinary workday for most on July 18th, 2007, when suddenly a loud explosion was heard by New Yorkers in the Grand Central Station area and the ground felt like it was shaking. Immediately police, fire and utility officials fled to the area around the blast, which according to Con Edison left behind a crater that was 25 feet wide and 15 feet deep.

The blast occurred at around 6PM and is currently said to have been caused by a steam explosion. As of now there has been one confirmed death due to this incident. Specifically, Mayor Bloomberg told reporters that the pipe that exploded was installed in 1924. The Mayor stated that “there was cold water getting into the pipe, and cold water apparently causes these to explode.” He further stated that “It might have been bursts of cold water from the rain or because of another water main break.”

This occurrence is reminiscent of the steam pipe explosion that happened in Gramercy Park on August 19th, 1989. This explosion caused over 200 pounds of asbestos to pour over this neighborhood. Due to this incident, Con Edison was sentenced to three years of probation under the supervision of a court-appointed monitor for failing to inform the government about the release of asbestos after the explosion.

Suits were also brought by nearby residents who were displaced from their housing due to this incident. Questions as to Con Edision’s negligence was surely an issue. Inasmuch as asbestos was found in the dust caused by the explosion that occurred on July 18th, 2007 in the Midtown area, there are questions now as to who, if anyone, should be on the hook for what has happened.

Inasmuch as terrorism has been ruled out, the focus now is on Con Edison and issues as to their negligence, as it was in the previous steam explosion. The question becomes whether Con Edison failed to act reasonably and whether this steam explosion was a foreseeable risk. There are issues as to whether Con Edison created this risk and/or had constructive notice, that is reason to know that something like this would transpire.

This would not be the first time that Con Edison was put on the hook for asbestos-related injuries. For instance, a Manhattan jury awarded a man dying of cancer $47 million for medical expenses, pain and suffering inasmuch as they found that the work he performed for Consolidated Edison exposed him to asbestos.

Please contact the personal injury lawyers at Levine & Slavit for more information. Levine & Slavit has offices in Manhattan and Long Island, handling personal injury and medical malpractice cases in New York City, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and surrounding areas including Westchester County.

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