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Long Island Woman Fights Huge Legal Bills After Neighbor's Oil Tank Spilled

LIDO BEACH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- A Lido Beach, Long Island family's nightmare has gone to court.

As CBS 2's Carolyn Gusoff reported, Lynn Eskanazi and her family are battling for damages after a neighbor's oil tank leaked, and sent a toxic plume next door. Staggering legal bills are now the issue.

The smell of oil still lingers at times in Eskanazi's home, after home heating oil from a neighbor's underground tank flooded her crawlspace.

"It smelled so toxic," she said.

And the odor is not all that lingers.

"Incredibly stressful; incredibly emotional," Eskanazi said. "It's destroying our lives."

Nine years after 1,000 gallons of oil seeped into her house, Eskanazi has continued to fight with her neighbors' insurance companies for money to rebuild -- and remove the oil-soaked soil.

There are also $1.3 million in legal and expert fees. Much of that money was lent to Eskanazi by her father, Murray, who raided his retirement fund.

"If significant parts of it don't come back, I don't know what I'm going to do," Murray Esnakazi said.

Those legal and expert fees now the subject of a Nassau County Supreme Court hearing. OneBeacon and Hanover Insurance agreed to settle the case, two year ago, but now they are challenging the price tag.

"We feel they are doing this to wait 'til we die -- literally kill us, from the stress, and not have to pay anything, and wait for us to bail out," Lynn Eskanazi said.

Attorneys for the insurance companies and the neighbors said they are not reneging on the agreement, but have the right to a hearing on legal fees.

"My clients the MacKouls didn't invite this either," said Curtis Sobel, an attorney representing one neighboring family. "Litigation is complex, and there were opportunities to resolve the case at various points."

Lynn Ezkanazi said she is trapped in a legal battle with no end in sight -- unable even to sell her home because under the circumstances, she believes no one would buy it.

You can find out if oil has ever spilled in any home by checking the state Department of Environmental Conservation's online spill registry.

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