Author: Cynthia Diaz Shephard/Wed, Apr 02, 2014/Categories: Blog

Judge-Denies-LIPA-Litigation-DismissalThe Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) and National Grid Electric (the Grid), the service provider to LIPA, were denied their request to dismiss a consolidated class action lawsuit brought over hurricane Sandy litigation.

The judge denied the service providers’ motion to dismiss causes of action and injunctive relief involving claims asserted in the consolidated class action case. This means that discovery will now move forward in the litigation. Allegations include, among other issues, that LIPA and the Grid were both grossly negligent and significantly ill prepared for the Sandy superstorm that occurred in 2012.

The class action also alleges that LIPA and the Grid were “woefully inadequate and grossly negligent” in their “preparation for and response to” Hurricane Sandy, which struck Long Island in October 2012. Allegations also include that about 90 percent of the authority’s customers lost power for at least two weeks, some even longer. In response, Governor Cuomo remarked that the power authority failed its consumers, the lawsuit also alleges.

LIPA customers are described as paying among some of the highest electric service rates nationwide. Yet, according to the lawsuit, “LIPA has a grossly inadequate and inefficient transmission and delivery System … antiquated communication systems with its customers and public officials, antiquated communication systems within itself, and an inadequate storm response Plan.” Lawsuit allegations include that LIPA was completely aware of its system’s inadequacies and, also, continually ignored the government’s warnings about its failings, its lack of a proper disaster plan, and its outdated operations. LIPA has also been accused of breaching its “contractual obligation to provide reliable service to almost one million of its customers” in the wake of Sandy.

Following the LIPA-Sandy debacle last summer, LIPA was replaced by Public Service Electric and Gas (PSEG). At that time, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a law restricting Long Island utility operations and said, “The legislation that was signed into law today ends the LIPA as we know it, and creates a new utility system that puts Long Island ratepayers first…. LIPA has offered lackluster service for too long and after its failure to perform during Superstorm Sandy it was clear we needed a change,” according to a prior MyFoxAustin report.

Based on the law Governor Cuomo signed, PSEG was put in charge of daily operations, effective January 1, 2014. The then-current rate will remain frozen through 2016, as well. Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano both stated that they were pleased with the measure, MyFoxAustin reported.

Superstorm Sandy made landfall on October 29 in southern New Jersey and northern Delaware as a Category 1 hurricane; these parts of the country are not normally affected by direct hurricane landfalls. Sandy wreaked havoc up and down the Eastern seaboard, causing billions of dollars in property damage. Long Island and Manhattan sustained severe damage from strong winds, heavy rains, and storm surges.

Before Sandy made landfall, its torrential rains and strong winds created record storm surges that battered the coastline and also knocked out electricity for millions. Ultimately, Sandy became a Nor’easter, a type of storm with which residents are more accustomed, but not to the scale of Sandy, hence the name “Superstorm Sandy.”

Billions of dollars in losses were reported involving damage and destruction of thousands of homes and structures on Long Island, as well as prolonged power outages region-wide. Many criticized LIPA for not moving quickly enough to return power to the hundreds of thousands of Long Islanders who were crippled by Superstorm Sandy. Complaints included that LIPA and the National Grid neglected to properly prepare for the storm, warn their customers, establish a proper emergency management system, maintain power distribution equipment, or provide adequate service.

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