News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

Freres raises alarm about lawsuit limits

Freres Engineered Wood has petitioned to intervene in PacifiCorp’s attempts to impose limits on customer lawsuits, while a deadline for intervenor briefs has been pushed back a week.

The company filed with the Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) Feb. 16 saying it has a direct stake in PacifiCorp’s request to add a limited liability clause to its contract for services.

The clause would effectively ban all PacifiCorp customers from seeking non-economic damages against the company and damages caused by anything other than the use of electric services.

PUC has been given until April 9 to approve or deny the request, or to seek more time to investigate the matter.

Freres’ filing said it could be directly impacted by the outcome due to its heavy losses in the PacifiCorp-caused Santiam Fire in 2020. A $15.7 million suit by Freres against PacifiCorp is set for trial April 22 and the proposed limits could “significantly and negatively impact Freres’s interests,” said the petition.

As of press time Freres’ petition had yet to be approved.

Freres would be the ninth group to intervene in PacifiCorp’s request since it was first filed with PUC Oct. 24, 2023.

Others include class members in James et al vs. PacifiCorp, Portland General Electric, Idaho Power, Oregon Citizens Utility Board, Oregon Consumer Justice, Alliance of Western Energy Consumers, Green Energy Institute and Sierra Club.

Intervenors were expected to file opening briefs Feb. 20 detailing their interests in the matter, but this deadline was pushed to Feb. 27 after attorneys for the James class sought more time. 

In a Feb. 16 filing they said a member of their team had contracted COVID, while they were also preparing for a Feb. 26 trial, and their request for an extension was granted that day.

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