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Oregon Jury Orders PacifiCorp to Pay $62 Million Over 2020 Wildfires

An Oregon jury ordered PacifiCorp to pay $62 million to homeowners affected by the 2020 wildfires. This ruling marks a pivotal moment in addressing the impact of these devastating fires.

It signifies a major financial responsibility for the utility company, owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.

Historic Verdict

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An Oregon jury has mandated PacifiCorp to compensate nine homeowners with $62 million. This decision comes in response to the destructive wildfires that swept through Oregon in 2020.

Compensation Breakdown

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The Portland jury allocated nearly $6.3 million for property damage and economic losses.

Additionally, $56 million was awarded for emotional distress and suffering caused by the fires.

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A Tale of Survival

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One individual received $9 million for his harrowing escape from the flames. Bloomberg highlighted his leap off a cliff into a river to evade the fire that destroyed his home.

Series of Mini-Trials

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This verdict is the first in a series of three mini-trials scheduled for this year. These trials aim to determine PacifiCorp’s total financial obligation to the wildfire victims.

Upcoming Trials

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The next trial, beginning February 27, will focus on nine more wildfire survivors. It also includes a Christian-based camp affected by the fires, as reported by Axios.

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Third Trial Scheduled

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A third damages trial is set for April 22. It further assesses PacifiCorp’s liability for the extensive damage caused by the wildfires.

PacifiCorp’s Legal Challenge

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Owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, PacifiCorp faces substantial legal battles. Last year, an Oregon jury found the company liable for the wildfires.

The Cause of the Fires

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PacifiCorp was criticized for not cutting off power during a critical Labor Day windstorm. This led to downed power lines and massive fires across Oregon.

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Devastating Impact

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The wildfires covered about 1,900 square miles and destroyed over 5,000 buildings. Tragically, nine lives were also lost in the disaster.

PacifiCorp’s Appeal

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PacifiCorp has appealed the ruling, defending its fire prevention strategies. The company claims that shutting down power was not necessary based on the information available.

Potential Bankruptcy

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PacifiCorp faces up to $11 billion in potential damages from a class action lawsuit. This staggering amount could push the company towards bankruptcy.

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PacifiCorp’s Statement

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In a statement, PacifiCorp acknowledged the tragedy of the wildfires. The company committed to settling all reasonable claims under Oregon law.

Plaintiffs’ Perspective

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Matthew Preusch, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, called the verdict a crucial step towards justice. He emphasized the importance of compensating the wildfire victims.

Holding PacifiCorp Accountable

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Cody Berne, lead trial attorney for the plaintiffs, praised the jury’s decision. He emphasized the trial’s focus on the bravery of the victims and the accountability of PacifiCorp.

Previous Settlement

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In December, PacifiCorp settled another lawsuit for $299 million. This was related to separate wildfires that occurred over the same Labor Day weekend in southern Oregon.

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