The head of Long Island Power Authority resigned on Tuesday after a group of customers filed a class-action lawsuit accusing LIPA of being “grossly negligent” in its response to Hurricane Sandy, which left 945,000 of its customers without power. An estimated 45,000 are still without power in the area. LIPA chief Michael Hervey’s resignation comes as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the formation of a commission to investigate how prepared power companies were for the storm.
The suit, filed Tuesday in State Supreme Court in Mineola, charges LIPA and National Grid "grossly neglected vital maintenance," failed to fortify its substations, delayed replacing its outage management system, provided false information to ratepayers, and ignored a 2006 study that identified problems and could have minimized outages. The suit's named ratepayers, Jeff Mollins of Plainview and Jason Abelove of Oceanside, seek unspecified money damages and a review of LIPA operations to prevent the events from recurring, said their lawyer, Kenneth Mollins of Melville.
LIPA and National Grid declined to comment.
At a briefing Tuesday, Abelove said he spent more than $2,500 on electrical inspections required by LIPA, only to be told they were not good enough for his power to be restored.
"LIPA pulled us off the outage map. They literally wrote us off," said Abelove. His power was restored Tuesday morning after two weeks in the dark, he said.
Attorney Mollins, who is the brother of co-plaintiff Jeff Mollins, said he expects the lawsuit to be one of the "biggest class-actions ever filed," with 600,000 to 1 million possible plaintiffs. It's up to a judge to certify class-action status.
View the class action lawsuit filing below: