July 27, 2007 / 6:16 PM / in 10 years

"Smile" dentist seeks $25 mln over explosion

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A dentist who specializes in “smile improvements” has sued utility Consolidated Edison for $25 million for not being able to use his office since last week’s steam pipe explosion in Manhattan.

Self-described celebrity dentist Bruce Haber, 55, said he has had no access to his office since last Wednesday, when an 83-year-old underground steam pipe ruptured during the evening rush hour, sending a geyser of debris, vapor, asbestos and water hundreds of feet into the air.

“It’s been emotionally horrible. It’s been professionally devastating,” the dentist told a news conference, adding that he and his staff raced down 25 flights of stairs to flee, thinking a bomb had exploded and the building might collapse.

The lawsuit was filed on Thursday at New York State Court and is the second brought against the utility since the explosion. A woman who witnessed the explosion and whose sister died in the September 11 attacks is seeking unspecified damages from the utility citing emotional distress.

The explosion and subsequent clean up shut down several blocks surrounding Manhattan’s Grand Central Station and forced many businesses to ask employees to work from home.

Haber, who specializes in cosmetic dentistry, said he had no idea how many clients he had lost. He said his patients included top executives, supermodels and sports and media personalities.

ConEd spokesman Chris Olert declined to comment.

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