Attorney General James Delivers More Than $530,000 to New Yorkers Who Lost Power Following Tropical Storm Isaias
More Than 2,800 Consumers in New York City and Westchester
Have Already or Will Soon Receive Checks to Reimburse for
Food Spoilage from Last August’s Storm
Hundreds of Additional New Yorkers Expected to Receive Reimbursements
NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James today announced that her office has helped deliver more than $530,000 to more than 2,800 New Yorkers who went without power and had food spoilage following Tropical Storm Isaias last August. An agreement with Con Edison of New York (Con Edison) has already provided or will soon provide additional reimbursements to thousands of New York consumers who suffered food losses after power outages in New York City and Westchester County took place, last year, following the storm that ravaged the tri-state area. The agreement resolves an investigation of Con Edison in which the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) found that the power company failed to pay reimbursements in accordance with the instructions it had provided to consumers for food spoilage on its claim forms.
“When a natural disaster hits, companies should do everything they can to lift up communities and support those suffering,” said Attorney General James. “While simultaneously battling both a public health and an economic crisis last summer, hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers were also subjected to a natural disaster that left them without power for days. The aftermath of these power outages led to hundreds of dollars in food loss for thousands. While Con Edison offered reimbursements to affected consumers, it failed to live up to the commitments it made and left thousands to foot the bills for spoiled food resulting from the power loss. This agreement finally makes things right by putting an average of $185 back into the pockets of more than 2,800 New York consumers.”
The claim forms Con Edison provided to consumers who lost power after Tropical Storm Isaias offered to reimburse consumers up to $235 for spoiled food if they provided just an itemized list of the food without any other proof. But to receive more — up to a maximum of $540 per account — Con Edison instructed consumers to provide a proof of loss, and gave as examples cash register tapes, store receipts, credit card statements, cancelled checks, or photographs of spoiled items. In numerous cases, however, consumers who provided just photographs were sent letters saying that Con Edison required receipts for the spoiled food. In other cases, the company rejected claims for food that was purchased more than 30 days before the storm, notwithstanding that there was no such requirement on the claim form’s instructions. Because the nation was simultaneously battling the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, many consumers had stocked up on groceries that could be frozen and held in their freezers for several months.
Under the terms of this agreement, Con Edison has already paid or will soon pay more than $534,500 to reimburse consumers who claimed more than $235 in spoiled food. The company will review those claims previously submitted and will send checks for remaining balances owed — an average of $185 for 2,874 consumers. Hundreds of additional consumers will likely be eligible for reimbursements in the coming weeks. Consumers eligible for the supplemental reimbursement do not need to do anything to receive their checks, and the vast majority of checks — more than 2,600 — have already been sent out.
Con Edison will also pay the state of New York $20,000 in costs and penalties for violating both New York General Business Law 349 and Executive Law 63(12) law.
The investigation was led by Assistant Attorney General Melvin Goldberg of the Bureau of Consumer Frauds and Protection. The Bureau of Consumer Frauds and Protection is led by Bureau Chief Jane M. Azia, and is a part of the Division for Economic Justice, which is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General Chris D’Angelo and First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.