Nine plaintiffs allege that Southern California Edison, a Southern California utility company, sparked the biggest wildfire the state has seen in modern history. The joint suit cited negligence in regard to the fire ignited on the evening of December 6th, 2017.
The plaintiffs claim that if the utility company had behaved in a responsible manner, the Thomas Fire could possibly have been prevented. According to the lawsuit, negligence was apparent when the company performed construction near a facility without necessary safety precautions and in an unsafe manner that resulted in nearby vegetation catching fire. It was also noted that the company failed to maintain its facilities (both overhead electric and communications) in a safe manner and that Southern California Edison did not remove trees and/or vegetation that was encroaching on space surrounding utility poles.
The lawsuit also lists two other Defendants: Ventura City and the Casitas Municipal Water District citing their failure to have functioning generators available when they were needed that would have been able to help with water pressure during the fire.
The Thomas Fire left destruction in its wake. 242,000 acres were burned through. More than 1,000 structures of various sizes and purposes were destroyed or left with extensive fire damage. And thousands and firefighters and countless resources were required to extinguish the flames. The Thomas wildfire left more than 100,000 Californians displaced – their homes either destroyed or unlivable.
One major problem during the fight to extinguish the fire was a lack of water pressure being supplied to fire hydrants located in hillside neighborhoods and canyons of Ventura. Plaintiffs find it shocking that the City of Ventura failed to have a working backup generator on hand when it was desperately needed.
The utility company declined to comment on the pending lawsuit as the Cal Fire investigation is currently in progress. Ventura City’s Water General Manager expressed his sympathy for those who lost their homes and/or were displaced by the Thomas Fire and added that the city doesn’t comment on pending litigation, but that they did commend both the firefighters and Ventura Water crews for their response during the emergency.
The Municipal Water District also declined to comment citing the pending nature of the litigation. The lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages.
If you have questions regarding corporate liability, or filing a class action lawsuit in California, please contact one of the experienced employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.