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

PacifiCorp settles with 403 survivors

PacifiCorp settled for $178 million with 403 survivors of the 2020 Labor Day fires, including some from the Santiam Canyon, as settlement talks falter in a related class action lawsuit.

In a joint press release June 3, both the company and attorneys for the fire survivors said the settlement was a significant achievement.

“We are pleased to resolve these claims to provide plaintiffs with some closure,” said Pacific Power President Ryan Flynn.

“[The settlement] provides meaningful compensation to those affected, enabling them to rebuild and recover from these traumatic events,” said attorney George McCoy with Warren Allen LLP.

PacifiCorp said those who settled included survivors of the Santiam and Echo Mountain Complex fires, which were sparked by damaged PacifiCorp equipment on Sept. 7, 2020.

PacifiCorp was found negligently and recklessly liable by a Portland jury last year for the fires in James et al vs. PacifiCorp, as well as the South Obenchain and 242 fires. The June 3 release said the “vast majority” of the 403 plaintiffs who settled were not part of the James lawsuit and had opted out of the case.

The release said PacifiCorp has now settled close to 1,500 claims over the fires in Oregon and California. These include a $55 million settlement in May of 2023 with a class of 200 insurance companies, and two settlements totaling $549 million in December of 2023 with 463 individuals and 10 businesses over the Archie Creek Fire. The company also settled for an undisclosed sum this April with Feres Timber Inc. and C.W. Specialty Lumber Inc.

In the James suit, $212 million has so far been awarded to 36 plaintiffs since last year, and 1,365 additional claims had been filed since April. On May 31 attorneys for James plaintiffs told the court mediation talks with PacifiCorp had broken down and requested an expedited process to resolve these pending claims.

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