Motley Rice and co-counsel file class action in wake of massive Outer Banks power outage
Motley Rice LLC, one of the nation’s largest plaintiffs’ firms, along with co-counsel The Moody Law Firm, Inc., filed a class action on August 4, 2017 for people or businesses allegedly financially harmed by the mass power outage.
The class includes people who owned property on Hatteras and/or Ocracoke Island(s), including the villages of Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo, Avon, Buxton, and Frisco, and that was not exclusively used as a primary residence between July 27, 2017 to August 4, 2017, and who suffered lost rental income and revenue, damage to that property from, or whose use and enjoyment of that property was impacted by, PCL’s transmission line damage. The class also includes people who owned or operated businesses on the Islands between July 27, 2017 to August 4, 2017 and who lost income or revenue, including through loss of customers and interruption of their business.
The lawsuit alleges that on July 27, 2017, a PCL Construction crew that was working on Bonner Bridge negligently and recklessly severed an underground transmission cable and damaged two others that were operated by Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative, cutting off the main power line for North Carolina’s Hatteras and Ocracoke islands.
The plaintiffs claim PCL Construction was grossly negligent as it had knowledge of the power lines locations and should have known that driving the steel beam in that location would result in damage or destruction of the power lines.
As a result, a state of emergency was declared and mandatory evacuations were issued for non-residents of Ocracoke Island and Hatteras Island, including the villages of Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo, Avon, Buxton and Frisco. In the height of tourist season, the plaintiffs’ most profitable time of year, it is estimated that 50,000 visitors and an estimated 60,000 residents and business owners were forced to unexpectedly evacuate. Power was not restored until August 3, 2017, a week later.
The power outage caused extreme economic hardships for the community’s business owners, many of whom rely on income from the summer tourist season to get them through the rest of the year, the suit alleges. Because tourists were forced away from the islands during the peak season, the suit claims plaintiffs suffered unexpected rental terminations and lost business that will have lasting implications for the foreseeable future. The businesses incurred additional losses related to the securing of personal property and inventory as a result of the outage, the suit alleges.
“The businesses of the Outer Banks suffered massive losses in income that they in no way could have foreseen or prepared for,” said Motley Rice attorney for the plaintiffs, Fred Thompson. “The extent of the damage is such that it would be unreasonable to ask or expect these business owners to simply write off their losses during what’s normally their busiest time of year, due to what we believe was negligence on behalf of PCL Construction.”
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The case is Avon Cottages Ltd.; Avon Motel Ltd.; Esy Avon Cottages, LLC, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated v. PCL Construction Services, Inc.; PCL Construction Enterprises, Inc.; PCL Civil Constructors, Inc. filed in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of North Carolina.