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

Testimony of PacifiCorp CEO sought in fire death suits

The families of four Lyons-area residents who died in the Santiam Fire in 2020 are seeking to depose PacifiCorp CEO Cindy Crane in a pair of related lawsuits, to which the company objects.

On May 8, attorneys for the families of Peggy Mosso, 71, and grandson Wyatt Tofte, 13, and of Cathy Cook, 71, and son Justin Cook, 41, responded to PacifiCorp’s attempts to shield Crane from testifying.

In a filing that day in Multnomah County Circuit Court, they said Crane has spent 30 years with the company and helped craft its wildfire management policies. Though Crane was not CEO until September of 2023 – three years after the fire – plaintiffs said she still has “unrivaled” knowledge of PacifiCorp’s “innerworkings and its policies and procedures.”

Plaintiffs were responding to an April 30 motion by PacifiCorp claiming Crane’s deposition would “cause annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense.” 

The company argued Crane “has no personal knowledge of the events at issue” and plaintiffs have not demonstrated legal grounds to compel her testimony.

Plaintiffs have requested a hearing to argue the matter and as of The Canyon Weekly press deadline no hearing had been scheduled.

Plaintiffs sought to depose Crane in early May along with other executives including former Vice President of Operations David Lucas, former Emergency Manager Jeff Bolton, and Pacific Power CEO Stefan Bird. According to court records, PacifiCorp did not take issue with the depositions of any current or former employees except Crane.

These depositions are part of preparations for upcoming trials in the cases, with the Mosso suit tentatively set for trial in July and the Cook suit tentatively set for trial in August. The Mossos are seeking $540 million and the Cooks are seeking $240 million.

Plaintiffs claim PacifiCorp negligently caused the fire by not de-energizing its equipment during high heat and winds Sept. 7, 2020. A jury in a related lawsuit found PacifiCorp liable on these grounds for the Santiam Fire and three other fires in June of 2023.

Also named by the Mossos and Cooks as defendants are first responders with Marion County, Stayton Fire District and METCOM, whom plaintiffs claim failed to properly evacuate residents. Marion County has disputed this in a revised motion for summary judgment filed March 28, which remains pending.

Consumers Power had also been a defendant and faced similar claims to PacifiCorp. Plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed this defendant, which was formalized in a May 6 court order.

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