Two days ago, federal investigators found a leak in a 125-year-old gas main adjacent to one of the two East Harlem buildings that exploded last week, killing eight, injuring 58, and displacing dozens more. While the official cause for the blast has yet to be determined, Con Ed, which operates the natural-gas pipeline near the site, is already doing what it can to protect itself to minimize the number of lawsuits heading its way: The Wall Street Journal reports that the energy company has already made 87 payments to people who were hurt or lost their homes in the explosion.
Con Ed spokesman Robert McGee "declined to provide the total amount the company has paid or the average amount paid for each victim. The company made the payments after 'one-on-one' meetings with victims, he said." Speaking about the early payments, Douglas H. Wigdor, a lawyer who has litigated against Con Ed, said, "It's certainly not standard practice, especially at this stage of the game." According to Wigdor, cash that victims accept now "would likely be taken into account" should they sue Con Ed for damages later on.