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Chef Sues East Village Building Owner Over Injuries from Gas Explosion

By Lisha Arino | April 28, 2015 2:29pm
 Workers shift through rubble the day after an explosion leveled an apartment building on 2nd Avenue and 7th Street on March 27, 2015.
Workers shift through rubble the day after an explosion leveled an apartment building on 2nd Avenue and 7th Street on March 27, 2015.
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DNAinfo/Ben Fractenberg

EAST VILLAGE — A Nepalese immigrant who was seriously injured in last month’s Second Avenue gas explosion is taking the building’s owner to court, saying that its negligence contributed to the blast.

Machendra Chongbang — a chef at Sushi Park at 121 Second Ave., where the explosion occurred — is suing the restaurant's building owner MAH Realty LLC after the incident left him disabled and emotionally traumatized, according to the lawsuit filed Monday in Manhattan Supreme Court.

Chongbang suffered head, abdomen, and knee injuries after he fell into the basement when the floor below him collapsed in the March 26 explosion, said his attorney, Marius Wesser.

The incident, which killed a busboy and a customer, also started a massive fire that caused three buildings near the corner of East Seventh Street and Second Avenue to collapse.

The lawsuit said MAH Realty LLC allowed the building “to become and remain in a defective condition.” Investigators believe improper work on a gas line was responsible for the blast.

Maria Hrynenko, head of MAH Realty, did not return a request for comment. Her attorney's information was not immediately available.

Chongbang, a 28-year-old Middle Village resident, escaped from the building after following “a pinpoint of light” and the voices of rescuers, Wesser said, but he is unable to go back to work.

“He’s physically and mentally disabled at this point,” Wesser said. Chongbang, who speaks limited English, has been diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome, chest wall bruises and tears in his left knee, Wesser said.

The restaurant worker is unable to walk short distances without pain, he added, and the restaurant worker still remains traumatized after seeing the “lifeless” body of one of his coworkers.

Chongbang is seeking an unspecified amount of damages, according to the lawsuit.

Hrynenko was also sued for $40 million by two women from a neighboring building that was evacuated after the blast, although they did not suffer serious physical injuries, according to the New York Post, which first reported the lawsuits.