Con Ed Seeks Pretrial Coordination of Actions Arising Out of July 18, 2007 Steam Pipe Explosion

Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc. and Consolidated Edson, Inc. have filed an application in New York State Supreme Court, New York County, requesting that the Justices of the Litigation Coordinating Panel accept this matter for the scheduling and completion of pre-trial matters in New York County regarding all lawsuits thus far filed and those to be filed regarding the steam pipe explosion of July 18, 2007.

As part of its motion Con Ed is requesting that the court issue an interim stay of all such actions. According to Con Ed, sixteen (16) cases have been filed to recover for personal injuries, property damage and/or loss of business income. Thirteen (13) cases have been filed in New York County (Manhattan) and the other three (3) cases have been filed in Kings County (Brooklyn).

Con Ed is basing its request for pre-trial coordination on its contentions that uncoordinated, piecemeal discovery would fall upon Con Ed, and that the efficient administration of justice would also be prejudiced by drawing multiple judicial officers into discovery issues.

Con Ed is also trying to avoid its own investigation into the cause of the pipe explosion from being turned into an investigation supervised by the plaintiffs’ attorneys.

At a New York City Council hearing on August 7, 2007, Con Ed’s senior vice president for central operations, William Longhi, refused to give even a preliminary opinion as to the cause of the blast, likening Con Eds investigation to an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) into an airplane crash which normally takes one year.

This antagonized the council members who were already annoyed that Mr. Longhi did not have answers to questions the council posed weeks before when it called the hearings.

One issue that has come to the fore involves whether the plaintiffs will be able to obtain from Con Ed detailed maps of the New York City underground steam pipe system that the Public Service Commission has warned constitute critical infrastructure information that must be safeguarded for reasons of public safety.

The courts will ultimately have to balance this critical public interest with the rights of those injured or harmed by the explosion to obtain materials important to the prosecution of their cases. As of the present time, the Litigation Coordinating Panel has not issued a decision whether to entertain Con Ed’s request.

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. For 50 years spanning 3 generations, we have obtained results for satisfied clients.

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