The main electric utility for Hawaii has been facing at least three lawsuits since Tuesday. Axios reported.
Hawaiian Electric, which supplies electricity for 95% of the population of the island chain, did not shut down power as high winds from passing Hurricane Dora overtook Maui. fires that killed more than 100 peoplebegan on August 8, but the exact cause is unknown.
As the search for the cause of the fire continues, Hawaiian Electric has faced multiple lawsuits alleging the company was responsible for the deadliest wildfire in the United States in more than a century.
In a lawsuit filed Aug. 12 by three Oahu-based companies against Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and the County, a Maui resident is seeking a jury trial and class action status.
Another lawsuit was filed the same day, also seeking a jury trial and class-action status. claims that Maui Electric and Hawaiian Electric “kept their power lines electrified” and that “these power lines predictably ignited the fast-spreading, deadly and destructive Lahaina Fire that destroyed homes, businesses, churches, schools and historic sites.”
“The fire has killed dozens of people and ruined hundreds – if not thousands – of lives,” says the lawsuit, which was filed by two law firms in Honolulu and one in California.
However, another lawsuit against the same companies does not seek class action status remains committed to representing several clients affected by the fires. It was filed by the law firm of Singleton Schreiber.
“The island of Maui is sacred land to the people who live there, their families and their ancestors,” said managing partner Gerald Singleton in one press release. “Our goal is higher than filing a lawsuit; We want to ensure that the homes, lands and lineages of these people are protected. For our lawyers, justice means helping each survivor rebuild their lives after this terrible tragedy. This is not a class action lawsuit. We represent each client individually, as each claim of our clients is unique.”
Lawsuits against utility companies after fires are not uncommon. Pacific Gas and Electric in Northern California, which is accused of starting more than 30 fires has been at the forefront of several such lawsuits since 2017.
After a wildfire that broke out in Paradise, California in 2018 and claimed 84 lives, PG&E landed $13.5 billion paid to fire victims in a 2019 settlement. The following year, it pleaded guilty to 84 counts a case of involuntary manslaughter related to the Paradise Fire.
Earlier this year, a judge ruled that PG&E would do so face a jury trial 11 felonies and misdemeanors related to the Zogg fire in California that killed four people.
Southern California Edison faced multiple lawsuits over California wildfires and in July along with two other companies agreed to pay $22 million for a major 2016 fire that started when a tree fell on power and communication lines. according to the Los Angeles Times.
Hawaiian Electric Industries stock has fallen 30% since the Maui wildfires. CNN reported Tuesday. S&P Global downgraded the company’s credit rating to BB-.
“The wildfires have destroyed a significant portion of HEI’s customer base, which will take many years to recover, and as a result, we expect the company’s profitability metrics to weaken over the long term,” S&P told CNN.
Hawaiian Electric vice president Jim Kelly told CNN that the company’s “immediate focus is to support emergency response efforts on Maui and restore power to our customers and communities as quickly as possible.”
“At this early stage, the cause of the fire has not been determined and we will be working with the state and county as they conduct their review,” he said.