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Woman Maimed in Steam Blast Will Get $12.2M in Damages, Jury Rules

By Danielle Tcholakian | February 20, 2015 3:19pm | Updated on February 23, 2015 8:53am
 A woman maimed when a steam pipe exploded in Midtown in 2007 will get $12.2 million in damages, a jury decided.
2007 Midtown Steam Blast
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MIDTOWN — A woman whose right foot was left hanging by a shred of skin and muscle after a Con Edison steam pipe exploded in Midtown Manhattan more than seven years ago will get $12.2 million, a jury decided on Thursday.

Margo Kane has been battling the city, Con Ed and a repair company that worked on the pipe since the July 18, 2007 explosion at East 41st Street and Lexington Avenue, while the utility company, city lawyers, and the repair company, Team Industrial Services, bickered over who should be held responsible for the brutal injuries that left Kane, then an active 70-year-old who took daily strolls, unable to walk for months.

Kane, who remained in the hospital undergoing multiple surgeries and battling bacterial infections months after the blast, described the ordeal in an interview with the Associated Press.

"All of a sudden I was flying," Kane said. "I spun around and came crashing down. Stones were falling down on me. I was trying very hard to see," she said. "I really thought the whole city was gone."

When she looked down, she said, "I couldn't see it. I obviously didn't have a leg."

A separate jury will decide whether the city, Con Ed or Team Industrial Services, or a combination of the three parties, should be held liable for Kane's damages.

“At this stage of the litigation, the jury was asked to determine what amount of damages should be awarded as a result of the serious injuries suffered by Ms. Kane in connection with the explosion," a spokesman for the city's Law Department said.

"Legal responsibility for those injuries will be determined at a separate trial. It remains our position that the City is not liable for Ms. Kane’s injuries and should not be required to contribute to any damages award.”

A Con Ed spokesman said the utility company reached a separate settlement agreement with Kane before this trial. That settlement is confidential, the spokesman said, as are the settlements the utility company paid out to two other high-profile victims of the blast, Gregory McCullough and Judith Bailey.

Team Industrial Services did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

An investigation into the incident found that the boiling geyser of steam, mud and debris that shot out of the ground at rush hour that day was caused by clogging from heavy rainfall, leaks in underground water and sewer pipes and debris. The Daily News reported that a Con Ed employee warned in 2006 that the pipe needed to be replaced.

Kane's lawyers did not respond to requests for comment. It was not immediately possible to reach Kane, and a voicemail left for her son was not immediately returned.