2013-02-01 / Top Stories

Law Firm Going After Long Island Power Authority

The local law firm of Sullivan & Galleshaw, LLP has filed dozens of claims with LIPA on behalf of Rockaway Beach and Breezy Point residents who lost their homes or businesses to the fires during Hurricane Sandy.

Dozens of homes were destroyed from the massive infernos during Hurricane Sandy. However, attorney Keith Sullivan is not blaming Mother Nature for the tremendous losses. “Had LIPA acted even minimally responsibly during the storm my neighbors would be living in their homes with all of their life’s possessions and these two communities would not look like the war-zone they do today. ConEd killed power to half of Manhattan, LIPA killed power to other areas on their grid, but not our beloved Peninsula. No one was home in the homes where the fires started. Electricity and salt water is a deadly combo.”

Fire marshals with the FDNY have confirmed that the fires started when rising seawater came in contact with the electrical system of homes in Rockaway and Breezy and then the flames quickly spread aided by the fierce winds. Heavy flooding kept firefighters from responding to the storm ravished area.

Many in the area said the water would have only damaged their property, as it did many others, not reduce them to ash. "The storm was the storm," Joseph Napoli, a Belle Harbor resident, told NY1. "But the fire did this," pointing to the pit where his home once stood.

Sullivan & Galleshaw have gained a reputation of taking on tough cases and fighting hard for causes that impact the local community. Growing up in Breezy and Rockaway and still living here has made this case personal for Keith Sullivan and his partner James Galleshaw. “This should have never happened. I watched those fires rage during the storm from my home and was standing in front of them the next morning while they were still smoldering and we were all trying to make sense of what had just happened to all of us. Calling those fires a tragedy is an insulting understatement to the displaced homeowners. It was a travesty and what pains our community the most is that it was entirely preventable.” said Keith Sullivan. "Some people were wholly underinsured, and they have hundreds of thousands of dollars that they are going to be out of pocket in order to get back into their homes," Galleshaw added.

Sullivan & Galleshaw represent several dozen claimants and they were the first law firm to file claims against LIPA, which were due 90 days after the fires. "We have been contacted by many other families who missed the filing deadline. Most were unaware of the lawsuit so we are filing late claim notices on their behalf," Sullivan said. The lawsuit is by no means an easy case because of legal immunity LIPA is afforded under NYS law. If Sullivan & Galleshaw are successful in piercing that immunity, it will still be a costly and lengthy case. Sullivan said “This is our community, these are our neighbors, our friends and we are going to do our very best for them and then some. No one has more of a stake in this lawsuit to hold LIPA accountable than us.”

“It is astounding that a flip of the switch, so to say, would have saved my home”, said Breezy Point resident and lawyer, Patrick Mullaney. “I retained Sullivan & Galleshaw, because I know how much they care about the community and how hard they will fight for all of us impacted by the fires,” he added.

For home owners and businesses that lost their property during the fires, you can contact Sullivan & Galleshaw, LLP at 718-843-0300 and learn how they can include you into the LIPA lawsuit.

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