Montecito Mudslide Victims File Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Families and victims affected by the January 9th debris flow have filed wrongful death lawsuits against Southern California Edison.
On Thursday, March 29 at 11 a.m., attorneys with Panish Shea & Boyle LLP and the Wildfire Victim Advocates legal group held a press conference in Montecito to announce the filing of the lawsuit against Southern California Edison (SCE) on behalf of the victims of the Montecito Mudslides.
Plaintiffs include Santa Barbara County resident and mother Carie Baker-Corey who was swept away with her twin daughters Summer and Sawyer Corey (both 12) and their half-sister Morgan Corey (25) by fast-moving debris flow that demolished their Montecito home. Morgan and Sawyer were both killed in the catastrophic mudslide. Carie and Summer were later found in critical condition and continue on their long road to recovery.
“It was like an avalanche, coming at 100 mph, breaking through our home and forcing us down the creek" recalls Carie Baker-Corey. "We were holding hands as long as we could. I'll never forget the look of terror on Morgan's face as she was pulled under & disappeared."
The law firms of Panish Shea & Boyle LLP, Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger, Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy LLP and Rogers Sheffield & Campbell have joined forces and resources to investigate and prosecute claims in which they feel SCE is responsible.
According to the law firms, the Los Angeles County-based utility company knew about the significant risk of wildfires stemming from its unsafe equipment, aging infrastructure, and ineffective vegetation management system for many years before the Thomas Fire began, and has been repeatedly fined or cited for failing to mitigate these risks. The Thomas Fire and mudslides were the inevitable byproducts of SCE's willful and conscious disregard of public safety, they said in a public statement.
SCE responded by stating, "The Thomas fire has obviously had an impact on many individuals, but the origin and cause of the fire continue to be under investigation and no report has yet been issued. This and other lawsuits are not based on findings related to an investigation. Therefore, it would be premature for SCE to comment on the origin or cause of the wildfire.”
The press conference announcing this lawsuit is available below courtesy of KEYT News.
A separate wrongful death lawsuit was filed Wednesday in Santa Barbara Superior Court against SCE.
Ralph "Lalo" Barajas lost his partner Peter Fleurat and the home they shared in the debris flow on January 9th. His attorneys allege SCE's faulty electrical equipment created the conditions that lead to the Thomas Fire and the deadly mudslide in Montecito.
Representing Fleurat's family are attorneys Alexander Robertson IV, of Westlake Village; Peter Bezek, of Foley Bezek Behle & Curtis LLP in Santa Barbara; Joseph Liebman of Santa Barbara; and Geoff Spreter of San Diego. In total, 17 lawsuits have been filed on behalf of 250 victims from the Thomas Fire and Montecito mudslide, reports KEYT.
February 2, 2018: Remembering Peter Fleurat