Business Owners in Outer Banks Filing Lawsuits Following Power Outage
August 3, 2017 Last Updated on May 16, 2018
A settlement has been reached in this case as PCL Civil Constructors has agreed to pay $10.3 million to Outer Banks businesses, renters and residents who were affected by the power outage. You can find more information on the settlement here.
Businesses operating on Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands that were affected by the power outage stemming from the Bonner Bridge construction project.
What’s Going On?
Local businesses filed class action lawsuits against the construction company responsible for the power outage saying it owes them for lost income/money. The litigation has now settled.
How Can I File a Claim?
You can visit the settlement website here. It will be updated with information on the settlement, including how to make a claim and the deadline for doing so.
Update: On May 2nd, PCL Construction Enterprises agreed to pay $10.35 million to settle litigation from residents, businesses and tourists who suffered losses as a result of the power outage that took place from July 27, 2017 to August 4, 2017. Approximately $8 million is going to businesses on the islands, with just over $2 million allocated for residents and vacationers. You can view the settlement website here.
The information below was first posted when the investigation began into who could be responsible for the power outage and is for reference only.
Why Are Lawsuits Being Filed?
Lawsuits are alleging that local PCL Construction Enterprises was negligent in its handling of the Bonner Bridge construction project. The suits claim that, as a result, the construction companyshould be responsible for the financial losses businesses sufferedafter the islands lost electricity and were evacuated during peak tourist season.
How Could a Construction Company Be Considered Negligent?
The lawsuits allege that a certain level of care should be given to projects such as the construction of a new bridge – and that PCL Construction didn’t live up to this standard. For instance, the suits claim that PCL Construction didn’t:
Follow safety statutes for the Bonner Bridge Project
Take proper care in hiring, training and retaining personnel
Provide appropriate accident prevention equipment
Properly review plans and specifications for the bridge project
One lawsuit reportedly claims that PCL Construction won the contract for the bridge project by saying that it could save the North Carolina Department of Transportation $60 million by working on an “accelerated” schedule. The suits claim that PCL’s decision to “save time and money at the expense of safety” may have led to a situation in which a catastrophe was possible.
On July 27, 2017 at 4:30 a.m., PCL drove a steel casing through an underground power cable causing the electricity to go out on Ocracoke and Hatteras Islands. As of 6 a.m. on July 29, all non-residents had been evacuated. Furthermore, the suits claim, visitors have canceled their trips to these areas through the rest of the tourist season “due to the uncertainty of the repairs to the transmission lines.”
What Could I Get from a Lawsuit?
A class action lawsuit, if successful, could help businesses in the Outer Banks recover money and income lost as a result of the power outage. For instance, a renter may be able to get back the money he or she would have earned by renting out his or her property during the period of the blackout. A seafood restaurant may be able to recover the money it would have made from tourists and locals dining in.
Who Could File a Lawsuit?
Any person or company that lost business as a result of the power outage may be able to take legal action, including:
Tourist stops (horse stables, art galleries, marina shops, etc.)
Charter and commercial fishing companies
If you own a local shop, rental agency, restaurant or other business in the Outer Banks and you lost money/income as a result of the Outer Banks power outage, you may be able to claim compensation. One of the attorneys handling this investigation may then reach out to you directly to explain what legal action you could take following the blackout. It doesn’t cost anything to talk to a lawyer about your rights, and you’re never obligated to take legal action if you don’t want to.