Survivors Of East Harlem Explosion Plan To Sue City For Up To $1 Billion

December 29, 2014 | Prachi Gupta

Hundreds of people are expected to sue New York City following March’s devastating East Harlem explosion, which destroyed two buildings, killed eight people, and wounded at least 70 others. DNAinfo reports that the city could “face up to $1 billion in payouts,” ranging from wrongful death to property damage lawsuits. First responders injured by the blast and family members of people who died, among others, have altogether submitted 205 notifications to the city Comptroller’s office.

The horrific explosion occurred between 1644 and 1646 Park Avenue on March 12 at 9:30 AM, and is thought to have been caused by a natural gas leak — though the full report has not yet been completed. Sustained injuries include post traumatic stress disorder, depression, torn ligaments, and anxiety disorder, according to the lawyers DNAinfo spoke to.

Robert Vilensky, who is representing 10 people affected by the explosion, expects “most if not all his filings to end up in court,” and plans to sue Con Edison “for failing to maintain the gas lines and the owner of the building for neglecting its upkeep,” writes the site. According to Vilensky, the cases aren’t likely to be consolidated before June of next year, however:

Because of the high number of claims, many of them will most likely be consolidated and tried before one judge, Vilensky added.

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

Another lawyer representing 20 blast victims, Michael Huerta, said that the findings of the report “will probably determine what is going to happen as far as liability is concerned.”

(Photo: Adnan Islam)