Lawyers have asked a court to add telephone and cable television companies to a proposed class action lawsuit over the Maui wildfires.
The move comes after the lawyers, as well as fire investigators, looked at pre-wildfire photographs of power poles. The photographs, according to the lawyers, showed a lack of slack in telephone and cable television wires. The lawyers claim that uneven weight distribution and over-tensioning caused power poles to lean, eventually leading to them breaking in high winds. The lawyers claim this contributed to the Maui wildfires, which started on August 8, 2023, killed at least 97 people, destroyed 2,207 buildings and burned down almost the entire town of Lahaina, Hawaii.
Lawsuit Also Names Electric Companies As Defendants
The lawsuit also names Maui Electric Company, Hawaiian Electric Company, Hawaii Electric Light Company and Hawaiian Electric Industries as defendants, alleging that their electrical equipment contributed to sparking the Maui wildfires.
The lawsuit’s main allegation is that the companies should have, but did not, shut down the power before the Maui wildfires started, since the National Weather Service (NWS) had been warning for days before the fires started that high wildfire risk conditions would exist in Maui on the day of the fires.
According to the lawsuit:
- The NWS warned on August 4 that strong winds caused by Hurricane Dora could create dry weather as well as a high danger of fire from August 7 through August 9.
- The NWS warned on August 6 that high winds and dry conditions would pose a “serious” fire threat and a threat of “damaging winds” as well as “fire weather.”
- The NWS issued a Fire Warning and a High Wind Watch on August 7, warning that power lines may be blown down by high winds, and that if this caused fires, the fires would probably spread rapidly.
- The NWS issued a Red Flag Warning and a High Wind Warning on August 8, warning of winds up to 60 miles per hour, and warning of “high” danger of fire along with “rapid spread.”
The lawsuit alleges that the electric companies are responsible for the wildfires because they failed to shut off the power before the fires started despite the above warnings from the NWS.
The lawsuit alleges that the electric companies were negligent by:
- Failing to repair, maintain, design, inspect and construct their equipment adequately
- Failing to inspect, maintain and operate their equipment properly to prevent wildfires
- Failing to turn the power off after a Red Flag Warning was issued
- Failing to turn the power off after a High Wind Watch was issued
- Failing to turn the power off during warnings of a high danger of fire
- Failing to adequately maintain vegetation near their equipment, such as failing to clear tree limbs, trees and vegetation which could contact their equipment
- Failing to turn the power off after knowing power lines had already fallen or contacted vegetation, objects or structures
- Failing to turn the power off after their equipment had started fires
- Failing to implement policies, equipment and procedures which were reasonable in order to prevent wildfires
- Failing to adjust operations despite being warned about high fire risk conditions
- Failing to prevent power lines from being downed and blocking evacuation routes during the wildfires
Are You A Maui Wildfire Victim? Call Nadrich & Cohen For A Free Consultation
Call us today for a free consultation if you or your loved one suffered evacuation costs, property damage, business damage, business loss, personal injury, death or any other loss due to the August 2023 Maui wildfires. The experienced wildfire lawyers at Nadrich & Cohen are working together with local Maui counsel Peter Horovitz and Loren Tilley. You may be eligible for financial compensation in a lawsuit against electric, cable and telephone companies. Call us today.