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Sauder Schelkopf is investigating potential litigation on behalf of individuals who were impacted by Maui fires that are estimated to cost over $5 billion. The fires are one of the worst natural disasters in Hawaii’s history, and reportedly the nation’s deadliest wildfires since 1918. We are investigating whether there was a failure to deenergize power lines after it was allegedly known some poles and lines had fallen and were in contact with the vegetation or the ground possibly causing the wildfire to spread to Lahaina.
On August 15, 2023, The New York Times reported in part:
Interviews and video evidence reviewed by The New York Times show that the brush fire that wound up wiping out Lahaina ignited under a snapped power line a full nine hours before it roared through town — flaring up in the afternoon after firefighters had declared it contained.
On August 12, 2023, The Wall Street Journal reported in part:
Jennifer Potter, a former state public utility commissioner who lives on Maui, said she began hearing growing concern from community members about fire activity on the island beginning in 2019. That same year, Hawaiian Electric, the state’s main utility, said it would fly drones over areas including West Maui to identify utility lines prone to wildfires.
Documents show Hawaiian Electric submitted a request for funding in 2022 from the public utilities commission to help offset the $189.7 million it said it needed to bolster its power grid across the state, including wildfire-prevention measures. The request is still being processed.
A spokesman for the utility didn’t respond to requests for comment.
“There was absolutely knowledge within the state and within the electric industry that fire was a huge, huge concern on the island of Maui, and even more so than any of the other islands,” Potter said. “I don’t think it’s fair to say we’ve never seen this coming.”
Sauder Schelkopf is a nationally recognized class action and personal injury law firm. The firm’s partners currently serve as court-appointed lead counsel in courts across the country and have been selected by the National Trial Lawyers Association as some of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Pennsylvania since 2012. The firm’s partners were selected among America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators® for 2020. The attorneys at Sauder Schelkopf have recovered over $500 million on behalf of their clients and class members. Sauder Schelkopf and co-counsel reached a $10.3 million settlement on behalf of businesses impacted by a massive power outage and evacuation caused by a bridge builder on the Outer Banks. Joe Sauder also has a history of environmental litigation where he assisted with the trial of the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant in Colorado, which ultimately resulted in a $375 million settlement.
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Contact the lawyers at Sauder Schelkopf if you were impacted by the Maui fires