LIPA faces negligence claims responding to Superstorm Sandy; Business losses multiplying

The devastating effects of Superstorm Sandy will likely be felt for years or longer for many people in the storm’s path.

For people and businesses on Long Island, N.Y., and the surrounding area, much of that post-storm trauma likely could have been avoided had their electricity providers taken precautions prior to the storm and acted accordingly during and after it. Without electricity for more than two weeks in some parts, businesses have lost staggering profits and their futures are in jeopardy thanks in no small part to the negligence of Long Island Power Authority (LIPA).

Affected businesses have reached out to several local law firms as they attempt to prove their case against LIPA and seek to reclaim what they’ve lost in the storm and its unexpected and largely avoidable aftermath. A trio of Long Island law firms have been contacted recently by several business owners who’ve been most affected by Superstorm Sandy. These establishments have lost inventory, profits, and functionality after the storm and believe that had LIPA been more prepared for widespread power outages, much of this loss could have been avoided.

These businesses believe they can prove LIPA knew what had to be done to protect Long Island’s electricity infrastructure but instead chose to do as little as possible prior to the storm. As millions of residents that were targeted by Superstorm Sandy began to take preparations about a week prior to the storm’s arrival, LIPA figuratively sat on its hands, the business owners will contend.

The legal fight against LIPA began recently when Kenneth Mollins, a prominent personal injury attorney in the Long Island area filed a class-action lawsuit against LIPA and its contractor, National Grid. The lawsuit sought to include any Long Island power consumer who lost power during the storm. Mollins has reached out to Parker Waichman LLP, a leading national law firm when it comes to protecting the rights of individuals and businesses following a natural disaster, to aid his cause against LIPA. The well-known Manhattan law firm of Douglas & London has also joined the cause and together have created a high-powered litigation team to prove that LIPA is at least partially responsible for their losses following Superstorm Sandy.

Sandy made landfall on Oct. 29 in southern New Jersey and northern Delaware as a Category 1 hurricane, a part of the country not normally affected by direct hurricane landfalls. For a week prior to the storm, tens of millions of people from coastal Virginia up to Massachusetts prepared for a potential landfall. Millions more hundreds of miles inland also made preparations and were told to expect power outages that could last days or up to a week. Many residents in New Jersey and New York, especially along the coastline, were told to evacuate their homes in anticipation of the storm.

Even before Sandy made landfall, its torrential rains and strong winds combined to create record storm surge that helped batter the coastline initially, knocking out electricity for millions. The storm eventually “morphed” into a Nor’easter, which locals are more accustomed to occurring on an almost annual basis, but not to the scale of this storm, hence earning the name Superstorm Sandy.

Billions of dollars in property damage has already been recorded and that number will likely increase. Even though it was was not directly in the path of the hurricane, Long Island and Manhattan sustained severe damage from strong winds, heavy rains, and storm surge. Millions took emergency preparations, including thousands of business owners in the Long Island area but many of them believe their electricity provider failed in that effort.

According to a news release from the firm of Parker Waichman LLP, the next step in the legal process will be for the triumvirate of firms to file a Notice of Claim against LIPA. By doing this, LIPA will be put on notice of the claims against it. LIPA will be given an opportunity to offer settlements on these damages claims and by doing so could avoid future litigation for its negligence in preparing and reacting to Superstorm Sandy.

These businesses fear the worst for their futures. Approximately one in four businesses fail to re-open anywhere a natural disaster strikes in the U.S. On Long Island, that rate could multiply simply because more precaution was not taken prior to Sandy’s arrival.

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