Oregon Jury Awards $85 Million to Wildfire Victims, Holding Utility PacifiCorp Accountable

PORTLAND, Ore. – An Oregon jury has awarded $85 million to nine victims of the devastating wildfires that swept through the state in 2020. This latest verdict is part of a series of legal proceedings that place utility company PacifiCorp in the spotlight for its liability in the deadly blazes. The verdict signifies a significant step toward holding the company accountable for the damages caused.

“We are so proud of the strength and resilience of our clients, and thankful to the jury for holding PacifiCorp accountable for what happened on Labor Day 2020 – something it will never do itself,” said Nick Rosinia, one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys.

PacifiCorp expects that post-verdict rulings and insurance payments will bring its share of the verdict to just under $80 million. The company acknowledges the tragic nature of the 2020 wildfires and states that it will continue to settle all reasonable claims for actual damages under Oregon law. However, it emphasizes that the threat of wildfires to communities and businesses is a larger issue that transcends any one company or industry.

The wildfires that hit Oregon last year were among the worst natural disasters in the state’s history. They claimed the lives of nine people, burned over 1,875 square miles, and destroyed more than 5,000 homes and structures. The devastation caused by these fires necessitates holding responsible parties accountable.

Last June, a jury found PacifiCorp liable for damages for negligently failing to cut power to its 600,000 customers despite warnings from top fire officials. The power lines owned by the company were deemed responsible for multiple blazes. Although PacifiCorp has appealed this decision, this latest verdict further reinforces the need for accountability.

This most recent award is the first for the broader class of plaintiffs affected by the wildfires. Additional trials are expected to take place in February and April, shedding further light on the extent of the damages caused. PacifiCorp also recently settled a separate lawsuit for $299 million, compensating 463 plaintiffs impacted by wildfires in southern Oregon during Labor Day 2020.

The legal proceedings against PacifiCorp highlight the importance of holding utility companies accountable for their actions and ensuring that they take the necessary steps to prevent such devastating wildfires in the future. The verdicts serve as a reminder that the safety and well-being of communities should always be the top priority.