On January 24, 2018, a class action lawsuit was filed by Cappello & Noël LLP and co-counsel against Southern California Edison alleging the company knowingly and continually violated safety procedures, which lead to the devastating Thomas Fire that began December 4, 2017 and then the deadly Montecito mudslides.
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Thomas Fire and Montecito Mudslides Edison Class Action Case information
Victoria Frost, Robert Blanchard, et. al vs. Southern California Edison, Edison International, Los Angeles Superior Court, January 24, 2018. Case No. BC691146
Thomas Fire and Montecito Mudslides Class Case Plaintiffs
The plaintiffs in the proposed class action are individuals who lived, worked, leased or operated a business in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties and who suffered economic losses, real property or personal property damage, or evacuation-related financial damage resulting from the Thomas Fire and resulting Montecito mudslides. The lawsuit seeks to recover compensatory as well as punitive and exemplary damages from Southern California Edison (SCE).
Thomas Fire and Montecito Mudslides Individual Case Plaintiffs
In addition to the class action, separate actions may be filed on behalf of individuals who suffered personal injuries, or who lost loved ones, in connection with the Thomas Fire and/or Montecito Mudslides.
If you have suffered such a loss, or if you have sustained a large personal or real property loss, please Fill Out our Contact Form below or call us at 805-564-2444.
Thomas Fire’s Path of Destruction
The Thomas Fire raged in the mountains and steep slopes surrounding Lake Casitas and the City of Ojai. Driven by the Santa Ana winds, the fire consumed over 280,000 acres, including large portions of the Los Padres National Forest. Ash from the fire covered the land like a gray snow, and smoke filled the air and brought a dark pall over the sky. Over 100,000 residents were required to evacuate and two lives were lost.
Eyewitness accounts and other strong evidence show that the fire’s underlying cause was “sparked by unsafe electrical infrastructure owned, operated and improperly maintained by Southern California Edison Company and Edison International (SCE).
Southern California Edison’s Safety History
SCE has a long history of failing to comply with Public Utilities Codes (PUC) requiring that public utilities maintain their equipment to ensure the safety of employees and the public. Since 2007, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has levied over $78 million in fines against SCE for electric and fire-related incidents.
CPUC ordered SCE to inspect and repair its transformers and poles at least every five years. SCE has admitted it has not done so. Most of its electrical poles are over 70 years old. Many are overloaded with equipment making them even more unsafe.
On December 11, 2017, SCE issued a press release, which stated that it was being investigated by Cal Fire for its role in starting the Thomas Fire and mudslides: “The causes of the wildfires are being investigated by Cal Fire …. SCE believes the investigations now include the possible role of its facilities.” Plaintiffs have not charged any governmental entity, but their investigation into other potentially culpable parties will continue.
After shrouding the Central Coast in thick smoke for weeks, the Thomas Fire burned homes in Montecito and threatened many others before it was pushed back. All the while, residents and small business owners suffered as businesses shut down throughout Ventura County and Santa Barbara County. Then, in early January, rains brought devastating mudslides to Montecito, which led to widespread tragedy, loss of life, personal injuries and extensive property damage.
“SCE violated its duty to its customers and the public by knowingly operating an aging, overloaded and improperly maintained infrastructure that couldn’t withstand the dry conditions and early December Santa Ana winds,” says A. Barry Cappello, managing partner, Cappello & Noël. “SCE has been fined numerous times for violations that resulted in fires and millions of dollars in property damage.”
Thomas Fire & Montecito Mudslide Resources
About Cappello & Noël LLP
Cappello & Noël is nationally recognized as one of the country’s premiere complex litigation firms. Since the firm began in 1977, partners have successfully tried major commercial litigation cases resulting in over $1 billion in verdicts, settlements, class action awards and workouts for clients. Cappello & Noël represents plaintiffs in consumer, antitrust, toxic tort/environmental, insurance and banking class actions. Some of its cases include verdicts and settlements against some of the biggest U.S. corporations including Bank of America, Wells Fargo Bank and Boeing.
Cappello & Noël is partnering with renowned class action firms Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, and Keller Rohrback LLP in the SCE class action litigation. The three firms are currently representing class plaintiffs in litigation against Plains All American Pipeline over the 2015 Santa Barbara oil spill. Cappello & Noël is lead trial counsel. This collective group of experienced lawyers has decades of significant experience in class action work and has recovered billions of dollars for clients. Our firms present a powerful prosecution team against SCE.