Archie Creek Fire Settlement Between Two Oregon Households And Pacificorp

Archie Creek Fire Settlement: The Oregonian reports that two families who lost everything in the devastating Labor Day fires in southern Oregon in 2020 have reached a settlement with the electric firm PacifiCorp.

The secret agreement delays a jury trial that was scheduled to begin on November 15.

In a lawsuit that was initially filed in October 2020, the plaintiffs Kathy Kreiter and Tim Goforth claim that their house was destroyed in the fire. A burn Goforth received during the blaze left him permanently blind in one eye.

According to the documents, the other plaintiffs, Phillip and Cassie Strader, lost 750 acres of timber in the fire that made up their retirement fund.

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They were suing for a total of $69 million in damages. Due to PacifiCorp’s alleged willful disregard for the danger of injury to the plaintiffs and inhabitants of Douglas County, the judge had consented to allow the jury to consider punitive damages above that sum.

On behalf of a select group of the 200 families they represent, their attorneys, led by Baker & Hostetler LLP of San Francisco, filed three new cases earlier this week demanding more than $100 million in damages. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement during mediation, the matter may proceed to trial. Alternatively, PacifiCorp may decide to reach a settlement before another case is tried.

According to Robert Julian, a lawyer with the firm, “We went right up to trial and there was a settlement,” according to the Oregonian. We’ll try to have a retired judge settle them all. We’ll wait until after two, three, or four months before filing (additional cases). We’ll go to trial if they don’t gradually settle.

According to a PacifiCorp spokeswoman, the business declines to comment on legal issues.

Archie Creek Fire Settlement
Archie Creek Fire Settlement

A slew of lawsuits related to the blazes has been filed against the utility company, which supplies electrical service in many of the rural towns destroyed by the 2020 flames.

A class action lawsuit brought on behalf of owners of homes destroyed in the Santiam, 242, and South Obenchain fires is one of the biggest. The trial is slated to take place on April 24 in Portland’s Multnomah County Circuit Court.

A number of insurers have also filed lawsuits against PacifiCorp, a division of Warren Buffett’s conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway, and the company is also the target of a $350 million lawsuit by Douglas County timberland owners.

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Although the specific allegations in the lawsuits vary, they typically contend that the utility was careless in managing its transmission and distribution rights of way, failed to perform sufficient tree trimming, and failed to de-energize its electrical lines ahead of a historic windstorm that was anticipated days in advance.

In the Archie Creek case, plaintiffs claim PacifiCorp reenergized a line that had been downed in the storm and was ultimately responsible for one of the two fires that eventually combined to form the larger blaze.

On September 8, 2020, the Archie Creek Fire erupted, spreading to nearly 150 square miles in the first 48 hours as it was stoked by powerful easterly winds. More than 100 homes were damaged, and there were around 200 square kilometers of fire.

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