Oregon Jury Awards $85 Million to Wildfire Victims in Landmark Verdict Against PacifiCorp

PORTLAND, Ore. – Nine victims of the devastating wildfires that swept through Oregon in 2020 have been awarded a staggering $85 million by an Oregon jury. This verdict is part of a series of legal proceedings aimed at holding the utility company PacifiCorp accountable for its role in the deadly blazes. It is anticipated that this decision will set a precedent, potentially exposing the company to billions of dollars in liability.

The plaintiffs’ attorneys expressed their satisfaction with the jury’s decision, commending the strength and resilience of their clients. Nick Rosinia, one of the attorneys, stated, “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.”

PacifiCorp, on the other hand, expects post-verdict rulings and insurance payments to amount to approximately $80 million. In a statement, the company acknowledged the tragic nature of the 2020 wildfires but reiterated its commitment to settling reasonable claims for actual damages under Oregon law. It also emphasized the gravity of the growing wildfire threat to communities and businesses.

These wildfires were one of the most devastating natural disasters in Oregon’s history, resulting in the loss of nine lives. The fires burned more than 1,875 square miles (4,856 square kilometers) of land, destroying over 5,000 homes and structures.

A previous jury ruled in June that PacifiCorp was liable for damages due to its alleged negligence in failing to cut power to its 600,000 customers despite warnings from top fire officials. The company’s power lines were deemed responsible for multiple blazes. PacifiCorp has since appealed this decision.

In the previous ruling, the jury awarded around $90 million to 17 homeowners named in the case, with damages for a broader class of property owners yet to be determined. The recent $85 million verdict is the first in cases involving the broader class, and additional trials are scheduled for February and April.

In a separate legal dispute, PacifiCorp recently settled a lawsuit brought by 463 plaintiffs affected by the devastating wildfires that swept southern Oregon over Labor Day 2020. The company agreed to pay $299 million in that settlement.

It remains to be seen how these legal proceedings will ultimately impact PacifiCorp’s financial status. However, with mounting verdicts and settlements, the utility company could face significant financial repercussions in the future.

[AP Style Ending]