New York utility providers hit with lawsuit after Sandy

Raquel Erhard – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Long Island, NY, United States (4E) – Two residents of New York’s Long Island filed Tuesday a lawsuit, accusing the main electricity providers in the area of gross negligence, breach of contract, and fraud; two weeks after Superstorm Sandy hit the Northeast causing massive power outage.

According to the attorney, Ken Mollins, he is representing two individuals on a suit against Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) and its partner National Grid, which is asking the court for unspecified damages.

Mollins registered the claim as a class-action, allowing other residents to join as plaintiffs.

The attorney seeks accountability and alleged the utility companies were not properly prepared for Sandy.

LIPA spokesman Mark Gross told CNN, “At this time we are focusing on completing restoration for our customers.”

In a statement, National Grid, a multinational company based in the United Kingdom, said its workers are focused on full restoration and are cooperating with local officials and relief agencies.

LIPA’s website stated Tuesday that 98 percent of the 1.1 million ratepayers who experienced power outage two weeks ago have their power back. However, more than 15,000 customers still remained in the dark.

Around 37,000 patrons in the Rockaway Peninsula, Nassua County, the City of Long Beach and some Suffolk residents were not included in LIPA’s outage map because they live in flooded areas that would have to be inspected and properly certificated before electricity could be restored.

New York Governo Andrew Cuomo criticized LIPA the same day that the lawsuit was filed and he called for its overhaul, saying a new system is needed.

Mike Hervey, chief operating officer of Long Island Power Authority, has also resigned on Tuesday, effective at the end of 2012.

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