Our class action lawyers are filing lawsuits for individuals and winery owners who suffered losses in the 2017 Napa fires. Plaintiffs are blaming PG&E for negligence in “paving the way for the most destructive wildfires in California’s history,” which resulted in catastrophic property damage, more than 160,000 acres burned, and dozens of lives lost.
Free Confidential Lawsuit Evaluation: If you or somebody you know was injured, had property damage, or financial losses in the winery or hospitality industry, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a suit and our lawyers can help.
Update: Napa Woman Arrested, Charged with Starting Lake Berryessa Fires
December 8, 2017 – A woman from Napa Valley has been arrested on suspicion of arson after officials say she started wildfires near the north end of Lake Berryessa in Northern California. Cal Fire released no details regarding how they believe 59-year-old Debra Ann Windholz may have caused the wildfires, but have stated she wasn’t involved in the recent firestorm in Napa, Sonoma and Lake counties.
2017 California Wildfires
Fall 2017 goes down in the record books as having “the most destructive wildfires in California history,” according to an investigative report by the Los Angeles Times.
By mid-October, CAL FIRE reported more than a dozen large wildfires — 300 acres or more — burning across the state. The worst fires have been in Northern California, where the infernos have claimed at least 41 lives and destroyed more than 5,700 homes and other permanent structures.
Sonoma Wine Market Faces Uncertain Future; Effects of Wildfires Could be Felt for Years
At least 10 Northern California wineries were heavily damaged or destroyed by the “2017 Wine Country Fires,” according to the LA Times. Although this represents a small fraction of the total number of wineries in the Napa / Sonoma County areas, the long-term fallout from the fires could affect all wines produced in the region, whether or not they actually suffered fire damage.
“The lasting impact of the Napa fires could affect all wines coming from California, whether they’re caught in the fires or not,” said Alex Andrawes, a Texas wine broker who has extensive contacts in Napa. “No pockets spared, I fear.”
All told, at least 6,267 fires have burned 497,281 acres in California in 2017 alone, according to NBC Los Angeles. During the same period last year, 4,529 fires burned 244,198 acres. The 5-year statewide average for that period is 4,445 acres and 201,519 acres, NBC said.
Thousands Displaced by Wildfires in Sonoma, Napa County: CBS News Video
Wildfires Only the Beginning: New Environmental Disasters on the Rise
Scientists and environmental health agencies generally know what to expect from wildfires – massive deposits of ash seep into the soil, flow into the aquatic ecosystem and sometimes even the San Francisco Bay. However, unlike previous fires, the 2017 California wildfires burned through the wildland-urban interface and into cities.
“For how many structures that were burned in fairly small areas in these fires, I think that’s a first-of-its-kind event,” says Geoffrey Plumlee, associate director of environmental health for the US Geological Survey. “The concern is, can they get it cleaned up before the heavy rains come?”
Are Lawsuits Being Filed?
Yes. In just over a month since the first Northern California fires kicked off, more than 100 lawsuits have been filed in superior courts in San Francisco, Napa and Sonoma counties, which blame PG&E for negligence in paving the way for the most destructive wildfires in the state’s history.
The suits include claims of property damage, personal injury and wrongful death. Plaintiffs allege that PG&E failed to maintain its power lines, allowing trees and vegetation to grow close enough that it ignited wildfires when winds knocked down the lines on the night of October 8.
Have There Been Any Settlements?
The litigation surrounding the 2017 Napa fires is still in its very early stages, and it will likely be some time before any settlement negotiations come to fruition. However, this is not the first time PG&E has been accused of negligence in causing wildfires.
In April 2017, the company was fined $8.3 million for failing to maintain a power line that sparked the Butte Fire in Amador County in September 2015. The fire burned for 22 days and killed 2 people, as well as destroying 549 homes and charring 71,000 acres.
PG&E in 1994 was fined $30 million when trees hit high-voltage power lines in Nevada and sparked a fire that destroyed 12 homes. Prosecutors said PG&E diverted $80 million from tree-cutting programs into profits.
About Class Action Lawsuits
Although we are a nationally recognized class action firm, the Environmental Litigation Group at our law firm has decided against the filing of a Napa County fire class action suit and is currently filing individual claims on behalf of individuals and/or their family members that suffered personal injury or property damage.
A class action is a type of lawsuit filed with the court on behalf of large group of people or “class” of individuals that have been injured or wronged. The class is represented by the law firm and the case is generally decided upon a single member of the class who is sometimes referred to as the “class representative or class rep.”
Why Our Law Firm Is Filing Individual Lawsuits Opposed To a Class Action
In some instances, a class action may offer some advantages, as they aggregate a large number of individualized claims into one representational lawsuit. The aggregation can increase the efficiency of the legal process, lower the costs of litigation and in some cases offer the solution to a common problem wherein small recoveries do not provide the incentive for any individual or law firm to file an individual lawsuit.
However, a class action suit can also be a detriment to many class members, as they are often forced into a blanket “low ball settlement” and higher attorney fees. At Schmidt & Clark, LLP we understand that our clients are suffering emotionally and economically, and we plan to maximize each client’s recovery by filing individual Napa fire lawsuits on their behalf.
Do I Have a Napa County Fire Lawsuit?
The Class Action Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in Napa / Sonoma Fire Lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new personal injury and property damage cases in all 50 states.
Free Case Evaluation: Again, if you or somebody you know was injured, had property damage, or financial losses in the winery or hospitality industry, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a suit and we can help.