The three Pacific Northwest law firms that filed the first lawsuit against PacifiCorp and Pacific Power on behalf of victims of the 2020 Labor Day weekend fires have amended that complaint to add additional plaintiffs from around the state and a demand for damages in excess of $600 million.
Like the first complaint, filed on September 30, 2020 by Keller Rohrback L.L.P., Stoll Berne, and Nick Kahl, LLC, the amended complaint alleges that PacifiCorp and Pacific Power failed to properly maintain and operate their electrical infrastructure, thus setting the stage for tragic losses in the very communities these utilities served.
The firms filed the amended lawsuit on October 30, 2020 in Multnomah County Circuit Court on behalf of Plaintiffs Jeanyne James, Robin Colbert, Wendell Carpenter, Jane Drevo, Sam Drevo, Brooke Edge and Bill Edge, Sr., Lori Fowler, Iris Hampton, James Holland, Rachelle McMaster, Kristina Montoya, Northwest River Guides, LLC, Jeremy Sigel, and Shariene Stockton and Kevin Stockton.
The plaintiffs and law firms seek to represent all Oregonians who suffered damages as a result of PacifiCorp’s and Pacific Power’s alleged failure to take simple measures, such as de-energizing their electrical equipment—measures undertaken by other utilities—that could have prevented these tragic losses. Those losses now include over 4,000 damaged or destroyed homes and hundreds of damaged or destroyed other structures across Oregon, according to the state’s Office of Emergency Management.
The amended complaint includes detailed allegations about the harm the plaintiffs have suffered and how many of these plaintiffs witnessed electrical equipment sparking fires.
For example, plaintiff Kevin Stockton, whose Otis home was completely destroyed by the Echo Mountain fire, alleges how he heard a crackle and saw sparks and an “arc flash’’—essentially, an electrical explosion—on the hill above his home, followed immediately by fire and smoke.
“PacifiCorp and Pacific Power’s failure to take reasonable steps like de-energizing power lines in the face of extreme fire danger has resulted in widespread damage and suffering,” said Daniel Mensher, a partner at Keller Rohrback and a former environmental law professor at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland.
Stoll Berne partner Yoona Park further noted, “A class action is the most efficient way for these fire victims to pursue redress for the harm they have suffered at the hands of PacificCorp and Pacific Power, without each individual having to file their own lawsuit during the tumultuous aftermath of these fires.”
Said Nick Kahl of Nick Kahl, LLC in Portland: “I was born and raised here in Oregon, so this case is personal for me. Thousands of our community members were affected by these wildfires. With this lawsuit, we’re working on behalf of every Oregonian who lost their home or property because of PacifiCorp and Pacific Power’s negligence. Each of these losses is important. Many folks whose homes were destroyed don’t have an easy way to hire an attorney or fight individually for what they lost – we’re in this together to rebuild, and that’s what this case is about.”
The plaintiffs amended the lawsuit 30 days after sending a request required under state law that the defendants rectify and pay for the losses their actions have caused. Defendants have not responded to the request.
If you have suffered losses as result of these fires, you may be included in the putative class seeking relief; however, the proposed class action does not seek to recover for personal injury or wrongful death. For more information, click here and here.
If you have suffered losses as result of these fires, you may be included in the class seeking relief. We want to hear from you. To explore your legal options, we invite you to schedule a complimentary, no-obligation case review with our team of experienced class action lawyers.
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