In the most recent settlement over the deadly 2020 fires, PacifiCorp will pay $178 million to Oregon wildfire victims

Pacific Power, a division of PacifiCorp, and more than 400 claimants in Oregon reportedly reached a settlement of around $180 million. (AP) PORTLAND, OREGON Pacific Power, a division of PacifiCorp, said on Monday that it had reached a $178 settlement with more than 400 claimants in Oregon. This is the most recent multimillion-dollar payment pertaining to the catastrophic wildfires that devastated the state in 2020.

The Echo Mountain Complex Fire, which decimated Oregon’s central coast, affected the majority of the 403 plaintiffs in the settlement, according to George McCoy, one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, while the Santiam Fire, which raged east of the state capital Salem in northwest Oregon, affected other plaintiffs.

The company announced in a statement that it has resolved around 1,500 claims relating to the wildfires that occurred on Labor Day in 2020. Nine individuals lost their lives in the blazes, which destroyed thousands of homes and other structures and burned over 1,875 square miles (4,856 square kilometers), making it one of the greatest natural disasters in Oregon’s history.

“We believe that this will enable our clients to begin the process of rebuilding and healing from these traumatic events right away, and we think it’s a great way to do that,” McCoy stated.

Numerous Oregon wineries and vineyards filed a lawsuit against PacifiCorp last month, demanding damages exceeding $100 million. PacifiCorp is dealing with more fire-related claims. In their lawsuit, the wine producers claimed that the utility’s failure to shut off electricity during the windstorm on Labor Day caused fires whose smoke and soot harmed their grapes, lowering their crop and sales.

Oregon juries have ordered PacifiCorp to reimburse plaintiffs in several verdicts totaling hundreds of millions of dollars in other lawsuits that have gone to trial in the last year. If the lawsuits persist, it may be liable for billions of dollars.

In June of last year, a jury found PacifiCorp guilty of negligently failing to turn off power to 600,000 of its customers despite warnings from senior fire officials. The verdict, which applied to a class that included the owners of up to 2,500 properties, found that the defendant had behaved negligently and deliberately, and that it should be required to pay punitive and other damages.

We anticipate that mediation between the parties will result in a settlement, in addition to the thousands of additional class members still awaiting trials.

Utility regulators in Oregon denied PacifiCorp’s request last week to restrict its liability in wildfire cases.

According to the proposal, the utility would only have had to pay actual economic damages in lawsuit awards. The Oregon Public Utility argued that the request was overly broad and that it would be illegal to compensate for noneconomic damages such as pain, suffering, and emotional distress.