EUGENE, Ore. – Two mass action lawsuits were filed on Wednesday, blaming Pacific Power parent company PacifiCorp for the damage caused by the Beachie Creek Fire in 2020.
Local law firm Johnson Johnson Lucas & Middleton is partnering with Edelson PC, which helped win a $13.5 billion settlement from PG&E over the Camp Fire in northern California.
The suits involve 100 individual claims filed on behalf of people harmed by the fire. They allege that PacifiCorp failed to safely design, run and maintain infrastructure, causing the fire. The suits also claim the company failed to pay attention to warnings of “historic” winds and dry conditions.
Christopher Dore, a partner at Edelson PC, said he doesn't think the company took the proper steps.
"The appropriate thing would be to depower their lines in these areas. And as we allege in the complaint, they did not do that," Dore said. "And as a result, many of those lines went down and significantly contributed to these fires.
An official cause of the Beachie Creek Fire has yet to be released. An earlier lawsuit filed by Linn County demanded that the U.S. Forest Service turn over documents related to the start of the fire.
When asked for comment regarding the case, PacifiCorp denied comment, stating it's "company policy" not to discuss the pending litigation.
The lawsuits are seeking more than a billion dollars to help wildfire victims recover from historic losses.
"We've been working with [the plaintiffs] over the last several months to try and help them and to put together this lawsuit to try and get real, meaningful compensation," Dore said.
He also said the firm hopes to work out a settlement prior to litigation.
By the time the Beachie Creek Fire was contained, it had grown to 193,000 acres. Several small communities were destroyed. Eight people died.
A similar lawsuit, also powered by lawyers tied to the historic Camp Fire settlement, has been filed against Pacific Power for the Archie Creek Fire.