Beginning on November 8, 2018, the Woolsey Fire ignited in an unincorporated area south of Simi Valley, California and quickly spread throughout Ventura and Los Angeles counties. The fire burned nearly 97,000 acres, including 83 percent of all National Parks Service land in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, and led to the deaths of at least three people, three injured firefighters and the destruction of over 1,500 homes and structures. The coastal community of Malibu, and the businesses that thrived in the surrounding hillsides, have been destroyed by the Woolsey Fire and the impact will be felt in the years to come.
The cause of the Woolsey Fire is under investigation by state regulators with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) looking into the possibility that the fire was sparked by electrical equipment owned and operated by Southern California Edison (SCE). On the evening the fire began, SCE filed an incident report with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) indicating that an equipment failure occurred within minutes and in close proximity to where the Woolsey Fire began.
The lives of Los Angeles and Ventura county residents, as well as the landscape of the communities they call home, have irrevocably changed as a result of the Woolsey Fire. Those responsible for causing the fire, and the devastating losses suffered by residents and businesses in Malibu and surrounding communities, must be held accountable for their negligence.
Attorneys with Panish Shea & Boyle LLP and the law firms of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy LLP, Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger, and Dreyer | Babich | Buccola | Wood | Campora LLP have come together to investigate and prosecute claims for which Southern California Edison (SCE) is responsible.
Together, this consortium of law firms has recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for thousands of fire victims who have suffered total property loss or the loss of a loved one. Attorneys currently serve in leadership roles as Plaintiffs’ Co-Lead Counsel and on the Executive Committee in the Southern California Fire Cases against SCE arising from the 2017 Thomas Fire and subsequent debris flows in Montecito, as well as in the North Bay Fires litigation against Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) following the October 2017 firestorm in Northern California.
Additionally, members of this consortium have led the charge for victims impacted by the 2010 San Bruno Explosion as well as the 2015 Butte Fire in Amador County, and currently serve as Co-Lead Trial Counsel in the fight against Southern California Gas Company as a result of the largest natural gas leak in U.S. history in Porter Ranch, California. The catastrophic losses suffered by victims of each of these tragedies were a direct result of a utility’s failure to properly maintain its equipment and utility lines
Southern California Edison is one of the nation’s largest electric utilities, serving a population of approximately 15 million in a 50,000-square-mile service area within Central, Coastal and Southern California. The Rosemead-based utility has a history of noncompliance with state law that requires the company to properly maintain its equipment and existing power lines in order to reduce the potential risk of fire. In 2007, SCE was held accountable for its role in the Malibu Canyon Fire which was ignited by power lines that toppled during strong Santa Ana winds and burned 3,836 acres, destroyed 36 vehicles and 14 structures, damaged 19 others and injured three firefighters. In 2009, SCE was also found to have violated laws and regulations in operations of its power equipment which resulted in the Cottonwood Fire that burned 2,409 acres east of Hemet, California. The utility company’s power equipment had malfunctioned, causing heated material to ignite dry vegetation on the forest floor.
While the process of recovering compensation for damages sustained as a result of the Woolsey Fire may be long, these law firms have the resources to see the matter to conclusion. Their combined experience includes prosecution of wildland and wildfires caused by a utilities power lines, with attorneys specializing in wrongful death, catastrophic injury and property damage litigation. Companies like Southern California Edison must be held accountable for their actions.
We work on a contingency fee basis, which means our clients owe no costs or attorney’s fee unless we obtain a recovery for them. Contact a member of the Wildfire Victim Advocates consortium at 866-847-9512 to schedule a free consultation.