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Friday, December 8, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Owners of Exploded NYC Building Sue Insurers

NEW CITY, N.Y. (CN) - Building owners and managers charged in a deadly 2015 gas explosion in New York's East Village are suing their insurers for coverage against civil actions.

The March 26, 2015, blast at issue leveled 121 Second Ave., and sparked a fire that engulfed three adjacent buildings, killing two and injuring dozens more.

Nearly a year to the day after the explosion that claimed venerated businesses Pommes Frites and Sushi Park, Manhattan prosecutors indicted the mother and son who owned 121 Second Ave., Maria and Michael Hrynenko.

Along with two contractors and a plumber, the defendants face charges of manslaughter, assault, criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment.

The Hrynenkos and Maria's businesses, M.A.H. Realty LLC and Kiev Realty LLC, filed suit in Rockland County Supreme Court last week against their insurers.

They say Public Service Insurance Co. and Paramount Insurance Co. initially assigned four law firms to defend them against a deluge of civil actions but pulled the plug after their indictments.

Explaining their discontinuance of coverage in a March 8 letter, the insurers cited policy exclusions for criminal or illegal acts.

The Hrynenkos meanwhile call it improper to "disclaim coverage under this exclusion before the acts alleged in the indictment are adjudicated."

"Defendants are obligated to provide a defense to plaintiffs unless or until there is an adjudication to the contrary," the complaint continues.

Alleging "an improper denial of defendants' duty to provide a defense of the actions," the Hrynenkos note that the insurers "have already acquiesced to provide plaintiffs with a defense and the purported disclaimer does not relieve them of their duty to defend."

Along with an injunction, the Hrynenkos also want compensation for all of their outstanding legal expenses.

They are represented by Michael Burke of Burke, Miele and Golden in Goshen.

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