Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against PacifiCorp and Pacific Power for Recent Oregon Fires

October 01, 2020

Portland, Ore. (September 30, 2020) - Today, Keller Rohrback L.L.P.Stoll Berne, and Nick Kahl, LLC, three Pacific Northwest law firms with decades of combined environmental law experience, filed a class action lawsuit against PacifiCorp and Pacific Power for the catastrophic damage to homes, businesses, schools, and entire communities allegedly caused by the power companies’ negligence and downed power lines during the devastating fires that ignited in Oregon during Labor Day weekend of 2020. The lawsuit was filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court on behalf of Plaintiffs Jeaneye James and Robin Colbert.  

The 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. As a result, downed power lines accounted for a significant portion of the fire damage that communities members suffered.  

The complaint also alleges that PacifiCorp and Pacific Power wholly failed to take simple measures, such as de-energizing their electrical equipment, that could have prevented these tragic losses—measures undertaken by other utilities. For example, the elementary school in Gates, Oregon, used by firefighters as a command center, was completely destroyed by fires related to downed power lines that were not de-energized.   

“Many of these fires were not ignited by lightning or careless campers. Instead, these fires were whipped to their overwhelming size by a series of ignitions caused by these defendants’ power lines,” 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, “The downed power lines also made it much more difficult for the firefighting crews to respond to and contain the fires.”   

“At the end of the day, these tragic losses could have been prevented; these community-destroying fires were not inevitable,” said Mensher.   

The complaint can be found here.  

The law firms have sent a notice to the defendants indicating that the lawsuit will be amended to include additional relief, including damages, if the defendants do not agree within 30 days to rectify and pay for the losses their actions have caused.  

If you have suffered losses as result of these fires, you may be included in the class seeking relief.   

About Keller Rohrback  

Keller Rohrback’s Complex Litigation Group, based in Seattle, represents plaintiffs in large-scale, complex litigation cases involving corporate wrongdoing. We litigate against companies that pollute, commit fraud, fix prices, and take advantage of consumers, employees and investors. We are passionate advocates for justice. Wrongdoing takes many forms, which requires our attorneys to practice in a wide variety of areas.   

About Stoll Berne  

Deeply rooted in the great Northwest and nationally recognized for outstanding work for over 40 years, Stoll Berne is best known for its expertise in complex business litigation, intellectual property litigation, plaintiff class actions, and real estate transactions. Reflecting its commitment to give back to the community, the firm donates a generous amount of its gross revenues each year to charitable organizations. Stoll Berne is located at 209 SW Oak Street, Suite 500, Portland, OR 97204.  

About Nick Kahl, LLC  

Nick Kahl was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. He is a graduate of David Douglas High School, Portland State University, and Lewis & Clark Law School. Nick was elected to the Oregon House of Representatives in 2007 and is currently a solo practitioner, focusing on personal injury, consumer protection, civil rights, and complex litigation.  

In the News

"PacificCorp faces class action lawsuit for downed power lines that allegedly ignited devastating Oregon wildfires," The Oregonian, October 1, 2020.
"Pacific Power utility sued over devastating Oregon wildfires," KGW, October 1, 2020.
"Pacific Power utility sued over Santiam Canyon wildfires," KOIN, October 1, 2020.
"Pacific Power utility faces lawsuit over devastating Oregon wildfires," KATU, October 1, 2020.
"Pacific Power utility sued over devastating Oregon wildfires," ABC News, October 1, 2020.
"Pacific Power Utility Sued Over Devastating Oregon Wildfires," USNews, October 1, 2020.
"Class action lawsuit filed against Pacific Power for wildfires that devastated Santiam Canyon," Salem Statesman Journal, October 1, 2020.