A jury on Wednesday ordered the electric utility PacifiCorp to pay punitive damages for causing devastating wildfires in Oregon in 2020 -- on top of an earlier verdict already expected to amount to billions of dollars.
The decision came two days after the jurors found PacifiCorp liable for the fires and said it must pay for damage to property as well as emotional distress. The jury on Monday awarded more than $70 million to 17 homeowners named as plaintiffs in the case, with damages to be determined later for a broader class that could include the owners of about 2,500 properties, as estimated by plaintiffs’ attorneys.
The property owners alleged that PacifiCorp negligently failed to shut off power to its 600,000 customers during a windstorm over Labor Day weekend, despite warnings from then-Gov. Kate Brown’s chief of staff and top fire officials, and that its power lines were responsible for multiple blazes.