Judge Rejects Class Status in Sandy Damages Lawsuit
A state judge has declined to certify as a class action the lawsuit by a Staten Island attorney who claims damages from Consolidated Edison for post-traumatic stress, spoilage of food and the loss of services of a female friend due to the utility's tardy restoration of power after Hurricane Sandy.
Staten Island Supreme Court Justice Philip Minardo (See Profile) said that courts have reacted skeptically to class actions for power outages because so many variables, such as a home's location and the amount of damages to utility substations, are involved.
"While this Court does not dispute the claim that nearly one million customers may have lost power as a result of the effects of the storm in question, it would appear that the delay in restoring power to an individual customer will depend, at least in part, on the cause of that particular outage, and may vary greatly among the members of the purported class," Minardo wrote in Prignoli v. Burke, 103100/12.
Robert Prignoli, a criminal defense and personal injury lawyer, said he would appeal to the Appellate Division, Second Department.
Prignoli, whose own home was not damaged, nevertheless alleges that its value has dipped by more than $200,000 due to the impact on his neighborhood of Sandy and other storms. He says he lost $4,000 in food, was forced to buy two generators and had to seek other shelter during the 17 days the power was out. Moreover, he ascribes the "loss of services" of the woman with whom he shares the house due to the stress of "living off the grid" following the 2012 storm.
"The individualized nature of most, if not all, of these claims do not appear to be uniquely typical of the class of persons who he seeks to represent," Minardo wrote.
The judge said Prignoli may continue to litigate his own claims against the utility.
Prignoli is representing himself. Nancy Ludmerer of Davis Polk & Wardwell and David Santoro are arguing for Con Ed.