–Government claim alleges fire was predictable, avoidable and the result of LADWP’s active contribution to a failing infrastructure and increasing wildfire risk –
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Berbay Marketing & PR
LOS ANGELES (November 22, 2019) – Trial law firms McNicholas & McNicholas, LLP, Frantz Law Group, APLC and Bridgford, Gleason & Artinian have filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (LADWP) and the City of Los Angeles on behalf of BW Partners II, LLC, the owner of a multimillion-dollar property that went up in flames on live television as the Getty Fire swept through the most populated county in the United States. The lawsuit alleges that the nine-day wildfire – that burned more than 745 acres of land, damaged or destroyed 27 residences and endangered 7,000 people – was predictable, avoidable, and ignited due to LADWP’s negligence and failure to properly maintain its electrical equipment and manage surrounding vegetation.
“LADWP is the largest municipal electric utility in the country and has provided electricity for more than 100 years. Despite their extensive knowledge of Los Angeles’ risk of catastrophic wildfires and the required practices to avoid them, as well as having the resources to predict and prevent these disasters, LADWP’s negligence resulted in the exposure of its highly-reactive power lines to dangerous interactions with surrounding vegetation,” said Patrick McNicholas, Partner at McNicholas & McNicholas, LLP.
Preliminary reports indicate that the Getty Fire was sparked by a branch that was blown off a nearby eucalyptus tree coming into contact with one of LADWP’s high-voltage sub-transmission lines. According to the lawsuit, LADWP was aware of the commonality and danger of tree branch interference with its high-voltage lines along the Sepulveda Pass. The lawsuit also alleges that as of August 2017, approximately 50% of LADWP’s 320,000 power poles were more than 50 years old, and 21% were beyond their 60-year lifespan and required immediate replacement. These poles were supposed to be consistently replaced beginning in 2007 at a rate of 5,000 poles per year, yet LADWP allegedly averaged only 325 poles per year, knowingly contributing to a weakened or failing infrastructure and increasing wildfire risk.
“It’s tragic that the BW Partners’ property, and dozens of other homeowners, had to suffer the consequences of LADWP’s continuous disregard for the safety of the community,” added James Frantz, Owner and CEO of Frantz Law Group.
“LADWP has a responsibility to ensure that its high-voltage, revenue-generating equipment installed in high-risk areas, such as the Sepulveda Pass, does not endanger its own ratepayers and the community at large,” said Richard Bridgford, Partner at Bridgford, Gleason & Artinian. “Had LADWP followed proper practices in vegetation management, including consideration of weather conditions, such as the Santa Ana winds, the Getty Fire would have otherwise been avoidable.”
At approximately 1:34 a.m. on October 28, 2019, the wildfire now known as the Getty Fire was reported in the Sepulveda Pass area. On the day of the fire, Los Angeles County experienced regularly occurring weather phenomena known as the Santa Ana winds. Those predictable winds were forecasted between 30-50 mph with peak wind gusts up to 70 mph. The fire risks caused by these winds and their interactions with vegetation and poorly operated and maintained electrical lines are predictable and known to LADWP.
McNicholas & McNicholas, LLP, a Los Angeles-based plaintiff’s trial law firm, represents clients in the areas of catastrophic personal injury, employment law, class actions, sexual abuse and other consumer-oriented matters such as civil rights, aviation disasters and product liability. Founded by a family of attorneys spanning three generations, McNicholas & McNicholas, LLP has been trying cases to jury verdict on behalf of its clients for more than five decades.
McNicholas & McNicholas, LLP
10866 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90024
Frantz Law Group, a California-based law firm with offices in San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, Fresno, Bakersfield, Chico, St. Helena, Santa Rosa, Ventura, Santa Barbara and Riverside, represents plaintiffs in personal injury litigation cases and large mass tort cases throughout California and nationwide.
Frantz Law Group
Century Plaza Towers
2029 Century Park East # 400
Los Angeles, CA 90067
Ph (323) 425-8138
Bridgford, Gleason & Artinian is a Los Angeles-based trial law firm, specializing in business, insurance, employment, trust and estate, real estate, personal injury, wrongful death and construction defect.
Bridgford, Gleason & Artinian
26 Corporate Plaza, Suite 250
Newport Beach, CA 92660
3558 Round Barn Blvd., Suite 215
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
This press release was authorized by James Frantz, Patrick McNicholas, and Richard Bridgford.