On Monday, June 12, a Multnomah County jury reached a verdict against PacifiCorp for four devastating fires that swept across Oregon on Labor Day 2020. The jury found PacifiCorp responsible for the harm it caused to the 17 named plaintiffs—or “class representatives”—as well as to the broader class of approximately 5,000 individuals harmed by those fires. The verdict was delivered after a seven-week class action trial.
The jury found PacifiCorp acted negligently, grossly negligently, recklessly, and willfully as to the plaintiffs and the entire class, and directed PacifiCorp to pay between $3 million and $5.5 million in compensation to each of the named plaintiffs—totaling compensatory damages of more than $70 million. On Wednesday the same jury added punitive damages of .25 times the compensatory damages for each named plaintiff and for the class members for an additional $17,000,000 to the named plaintiffs. The .25 punitive damages multiplier will also apply to the class.
This verdict is believed to be the first time a jury has found a utility company liable to property owners in a case. When factoring in the damages available to the class, it would be the largest civil jury verdict in Oregon history.
Plaintiffs and the class are represented by Lead Counsel: Stoll Berne, Keller Rohrback LLP, and Edelson PC. Johnson Johnson Lucas and Middleton, PC, represents plaintiffs in the Santiam Canyon.
The trial team in the courtroom included attorneys Cody Berne, Tim Dejong, Emily Johnson, Mathew Preusch, Natida Sbribhibhadh, Daniel Mensher, Nick Rosinia, Patrick Ntchobo, Derek Johnson, and Marilyn Heiken. Also critical to our success was litigation support specialist Wes Mueller.