Jury finds PacifiCorp liable for Oregon Labor Day fires and awards punitive damages

June 16, 2023
Oregon Fires Trial

Keller Rohrback L.L.P. is thrilled to announce that on June 14th, an Oregon jury returned a decision that Berkshire Hathaway owned power company, PacifiCorp, must pay punitive damages for its role in the Labor Day wildfires that that devastated vast areas of Oregon in 2020. The jury determined that punitive damages should be awarded at ¼ of the amount of actual assessed damages on top of those assessed damages. This decision comes just days after the same jury found PacifiCorp liable for these fires due to their failure to de-energize powerlines and equipment which sparked the blazes despite warnings from top fire officials.  

Jurors determined that the power company must pay the 17 named plaintiffs in the case at least $87 million in punitive and compensatory damages. The decision on both liability and punitive damages is applicable to the entire class of approximately 5,000class members. As a result, future damage awards will likely end up reaching billions of dollars in future compensation for the class. PacifiCorp argued in closing argument on Tuesday that punitive damages in this amount could result in $25 billion in total damages. The actual amount awarded to individual class members will be determined in subsequent phases.

Keller Rohrback is Co-Lead Counsel in this matter, along-side Stoll Berne, and Edelson PC and was assisted by Johnson Johnson Lucas & Middleton, PC. 

While PacifiCorp has announced that it plans to appeal the jury’s decision, this is a major step forward in finally bringing closure to those whose lives were so tragically affected by PacifiCorp’s negligence. 

Read our press release here.

Other reporting on this decision can be read in the links below:  
"Berkshire Unit Fire Suit Heads Toward Multibillion-Dollar Finale" - Bloomberg
"Berkshire-owned utility PacifiCorp on hook for punitive damages for Oregon Wildfires" - MarketWatch
"Punitive damages add to mounting costs for PacifiCorp’s role in 2020 wildfires" - OPB
"Jury deliberates on punitive damages in PacifiCorp trial" - KPTV
"PacifiCorp must pay punitive damages for wildfires, plus award that could reach billions: jury" - ABC7Chicago
"Jury finds Berkshire's PacifiCorp unit liable in 2020 Oregon wildfires" - Reuters