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Con Edison Steam Pipe Explosion in New York City Brings Lawsuits

Jul 25, 2007 | Parker Waichman LLP A woman who worked near the site of last week’s Con Edison Steam Pipe Explosion in New York City has filed a lawsuit against Con Ed over the incident.  Francis Dorf’s attorney said that his client, a 52-year-old legal secretary, had a sister who perished in the September 11th terrorist attacks.  Last week’s explosion only served to exacerbate the post-traumatic stress disorder that has plagued Dorf since her sister’s death.

The lawsuit accuses Con Edison of negligence.  Dorf claims that the utility company did not properly maintain the steam pipes buried beneath the street outside of her office.  Con Edison owned the 84-year-old pipe that exploded last Wednesday.  It was part of an extensive network that the company uses to heat and cool Manhattan buildings.

Con Edison has admitted that a leak in one of the steam mains near where the explosion occurred had been repaired in March, while work on another leak several yards away was completed at the end of June.  Con Edison said that the pipes had been inspected just seven hours prior to the explosion, but that workers found no problems.  At this time, the cause of the explosion has not been determined.  Dorf’s attorney said that it is his client’s hope that the lawsuit will spur Con Edison to improve the maintenance of its infrastructure.

Dorf’s sister, Maria La Vache, was working on the 99th floor of the World Trade Center’s north tower when it was attacked on September 11th.  Her body was never recovered.  Dorf has been coping with post-traumatic stress since then.  During last week’s steam pipe explosion, Dorf said she called several family members to say goodbye.   Since the incident, her stress disorder has gotten worse.  Dorf has been unable to work, sleep or eat; and since the blast, she has been haunted by thoughts of her sister’s ordeal on 9/11.

Dorf’s description of her experience during the explosion is similar to that of many other New Yorkers’ in the vicinity of the blast.  Media reports have quoted witnesses who said they feared that the city was once again under attack.  Scenes of debris-covered commuters fleeing the site of the explosion also reminded many of the September 11th attacks.  

Last Wednesday’s explosion occurred when a 24-inch steam pipe burst.  The resulting explosion sent hot vapor and asbestos-laden debris hundreds of feet into the air.  One woman died as a result of the ex

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