On July 10, 2018, Judge Daniel Buckley of the California Superior Court issued an order naming Lieff Cabraser as Co-Lead Counsel for Individual Plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit against Southern California Edison relating to losses suffered by individuals and businesses in the December 2017 wildfires in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties, California, and the subsequent devastating January 2018 mudslides that affected over 6,000 homes and killed at least 20 people.
The Court assigned the Co-Lead Counsel the responsibility for authorizing and directing the work of the plaintiffs’ executive committee for cases involving individual plaintiffs, and also for coordinating the activities of the direct action plaintiffs during pretrial proceedings. Co-Lead Counsel will also be responsible for directing and coordinating the briefing and argument of all motions, the filing of opposing briefs in proceedings initiated by other parties, and initiating and coordinating all discovery for direct action plaintiffs in the litigation, as well as coordinating all aspects of the class litigation.
The Thomas Fire, Large-Scale Evacuations, and Lives Lost
Starting on or about December 4, 2017, a fire began raging in the mountains and steep slopes surrounding Lake Casitas and the City of Ojai in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties. 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.
The Thomas fire burned an area larger than New York City, Washington D.C., and San Francisco combined. At the height of its strength, the Thomas Fire qualified as a “firestorm,” meaning it was strong enough to create its own weather. At times, the fire advanced at a rate of an acre per second.
Fighting the Thomas Fire required the largest mobilization of firefighters for combating any wildfire in California history. More than 8,500 came from all over the United States and other parts of the world to combat the flames. The areas affected by the Thomas Fire were declared a national disaster by the President in January. The Thomas Fire burned more than 281,000 acres, destroyed 1,063 structures, including 775 homes, and damaged another 280 before it was finally contained on January 12, 2018. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (“Cal Fire”) determined the Thomas Fire was both the largest fire in California’s modern history, as well as the seventh most destructive.
Contact a Fire Lawyer at Lieff Cabraser
Lieff Cabraser is investigating a wide range of legal claims on behalf of displaced and injured residents and employees and business and home owners. As with PG&E in the October 2017 Wine Country fires, signs point to potential responsibility of Southern California Edison (SCE), the local public utility, for the fires, including witness reports of high-voltage transmission lines snapping and transformers exploding as the fires were breaking out.