PSEG Long Island has decided to withdraw plans to appeal a case in which a Baldwin customer won a small-claims victory against the utility after alleging it was negligent in restoring power after an October storm.
PSEG has agreed to pay the woman, Marian Goldstein, 83, the full amount of the court’s verdict, $5,121.31, both parties confirmed. “I was shocked,” said Goldstein. “My mouth was hanging open.” She was told to expect a check within two weeks.
Goldstein filed her original suit in January, charging that the utility’s work several hours after a storm-related outage led to an industrial-strength voltage being sent through the Baldwin neighborhood.
Goldstein said she suffered more than $7,000 damage to her heating/AC system, surge protectors, circuit breakers, light fixtures and an air purifier the lung-cancer survivor uses to filter her air. She said the lawyer for PSEG who informed her of the settlement “thanked me for my cooperation” but didn’t apologize.
The company also has moved to settle two additional cases filed by residents in the same neighborhood, also for thousands of dollars in damages.
PSEG spokeswoman Brooke Houston confirmed the payments Friday.
“While we believe we would have ultimately prevailed on appeal, we are abiding with the court’s decision and paying Ms. Goldstein the amount awarded to her by the court,” Houston said in a statement. “We are reimbursing two additional customers for damages and repairs caused by the same incident. We believe it’s in the best interest of the parties to resolve the matter now.”
LIPA trustee Jeff Greenfield last month expressed outrage when informed by Newsday that the company had filed an appeal in the Goldstein case. LIPA was expected to request a review of the PSEG claims process.
“I’m gratified they were able to work things for our customers,” Greenfield said Friday. “I look forward to changes in the process in the future.”
Goldstein’s neighbor, Robin Sciortino, filed suit May 1 against the utility, charging she had $3,600 in damage to electrical equipment in her home the same night because of PSEG’s negligence. She couldn’t be reached Friday.
Goldstein, who opened the bathroom of her home to out-of-town LIPA contractors during superstorm Sandy, said she is still willing to work with LIPA and PSEG to help them fix their “nasty” claims process. “If they call me and they say, ‘How can we do it better?’ I certainly would tell them,” she said.
Her husband, Michael Goldstein, said the company needs an arbiter or ombudsman to resolve such claims. “There needs to be someone with the power to overrule these guys” when customers are unfairly denied their claims, he said.