NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Dozens of people who lost their homes and businesses to a massive inferno during Superstorm Sandy are celebrating a legal victory.
Nearly 130 homes burned to the ground in the Breezy Point section of the Rockaways in Queens when fires erupted during the October 2012 storm.
Attorney Eric Schwarz, of the firm Sullivan Papain McGrath Block Cannavo P.C., represents some 40 people who are suing the Long Island Power Authority and National Grid, claiming the utility companies could have prevented the fires by cutting off power before it was too late.
“It was not a complicated decision at all because first of all you were dealing with a storm that was forecast to be an unprecedented coastal storm event with record-breaking and historic storm surge,” Schwarz said.
Schwarz believes the utilities didn’t have their act together.
“There was no measured, thought-out action here,” Schwarz said.
LIPA claims during the emergency, it was effectively acting as a government agency shielding it from a suit. But an appeals court now says the case can go forward.
Schwarz said his clients are greatly relieved by the decision.
The law firm representing LIPA issued a response Tuesday.
“We believe the decision to keep power on to critical care facilities, first responders, and people’s homes was prudent and protected under our government immunity status and will continue to present our position in court,” the firm said.