Southern California Wildfires
Deadly Mudslides Following in the Wake of the SoCal Wildfires
Immediately following the Southern California wildfires, heavy rainfall caused massive flooding and mudslides in Montecito. The neighborhood hit the hardest was directly below the area of the Thomas Fire, prone to debris flows because of the steep, rugged terrain and the nature of the fire. Because the fire burned exceptionally hot, it changed the physical properties of the soil to make it less absorbent and more erodible. The Thomas Fire also denuded the hillsides and made the dirt unstable, and left layers of ash which further reduce the underlying soil’s ability to absorb rainwater.
Thus far, twenty deaths have been reported and at least two dozen people remain unaccounted for. As of mid-January 2018, many residents still await rescue in their homes. Power failures caused by the slides affected more than 6,000 homes and businesses in the area, and many parts of Montecito have been left without drinkable water. The Montecito Mudslides are California’s most deadly flooding event in several years.
Prospective Claims for Personal Injury, Wrongful Death, and Loss of Property and Business Income
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, early 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.
Investigations Into Southern California Edison’s Role in the December 2017 Southern California Wildfires
SCE released a press release on December 11 which announced that the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and Cal Fire are investigating the company’s role in the Thomas and other fires. SCE also admitted that it “believes the investigations now include the possible role of its facilities” and noted in its public releases that its equipment had been damaged in the fires.
Lieff Cabraser’s Work on Behalf of Fire and Accident Victims
Lieff Cabraser represents clients who suffered losses in these devastating 2017 fires. From our office in San Francisco, we have worked for more than 40 years to achieve significant and meaningful recoveries for individuals and businesses harmed by fires, toxic spills, and other environmental disasters.
Lieff Cabraser: Securing Justice for Californians Since 1972
Lieff Cabraser has a long history of successfully championing the rights of those injured or who have lost property and businesses as a result of fires and other environmental disasters. Several of Lieff Cabraser’s attorneys live in the affected communities. Over the last 45 years, we have assisted our clients in recovering over $118 billion in verdicts and settlements.
Our firm helped lead litigation against BP over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and oil spill, successfully representing property owners, business owners, wage earners, and other harmed parties. Lieff Cabraser was also appointed by the court to lead litigation on behalf of homeowners, businesses and employees who suffered economic injuries relating to 2015 Plains pipeline oil spill in Santa Barbara, and also helps lead two class action cases on behalf of homeowners and businesses who suffered losses from the 2015-2016 Porter Ranch gas leak in Southern California.
Lieff Cabraser served as Liaison and Lead Class Counsel in lawsuits relating to the 1991 Southern Pacific train car derailment and toxic pesticide spill over a 45-mile stretch of the Sacramento River, as Co-Liaison and Lead Class Counsel in coordinated litigation arising out of the 1993 release of a massive toxic sulfuric acid cloud which injured an estimated 50,000 residents of Richmond, California, and represented hundreds of property owners and businesses around Roane County, Tennessee that were harmed by the 2008 TVA/Kingston coal ash spill, the largest such spill in U.S. history