Baron & Budd Files Lawsuit on Behalf of Maui County Against HECO for Civil Damages Caused by the Maui Fires

August 24, 2023  |  Press Releases

Wailuku, HI—Today, the nationally recognized law firm of Baron & Budd, P.C. alongside Diab Chambers LLP and Cronin, Fried, Sekiya, Kekina & Fairbanks filed a lawsuit on behalf of Maui County against Maui Electric Company, Limited, Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc., Hawai’i Electric Light Company, Inc., and Hawaiian Electric Industries, Inc. for civil damages caused to the County’s public property and resources caused by the Maui Fires, including fires in Lahaina and in Kula. The lawsuit was filed in the Second Circuit under the case number 2CCV-23-0000238.

The lawsuit alleges that the Defendants acted negligently by failing to power down their electrical equipment despite a National Weather Service “fire weather watch” on August 6and a National Weather Service Red Flag Warning on August 7. The lawsuit further alleges HECO’s energized and downed power lines ignited dry fuel such as grass and brush, causing the fires.

According to the lawsuit, Maui County is seeking to recover public resource damages, including losses to public infrastructure, fire response costs, losses to revenues, increased costs, environmental damages, and losses of historical or cultural landmarks.

“We are honored to represent Maui County in this matter, said Baron & Budd Shareholder John Fiske. “The public infrastructure and public resource damages we are seeking in this suit will be vital to the rebuilding process in the aftermath of what is the nation’s worst and deadliest wildfires.”

HECO is a for-profit, investor-owned utility that trades publicly on the New York Stock Exchange serving 95% of the Hawai’i customer base.

The fires in Lahaina and Kula burned more than 3,000 acres and destroyed more than 2,200 structures, causing an estimated $5.5 billion in damage or more.

The County is represented by Corporation Counsel Victoria J. Takayesu, Deputy Corporation Counsel Thomas Kolbe, and by outside counsel John Fiske of Baron & Budd, P.C., Ed Diab of Diab Chambers, LLP, and L. Richard Fried of Cronin, Fried, Sekiya, Kekina & Fairbanks.

About Baron & Budd

Baron & Budd is one of the nation’s oldest and most revered national law firms, having represented 95 public entities and thousands of wildfire claimants including individuals, families, and businesses in lawsuits against utility-caused wildfires. Baron & Budd’s wildfire practice is based in San Diego, California and includes as co-counsel the San Diego law firm of Diab Chambers LLP. Together Baron & Budd and Diab Chambers have recovered more than $1.5 billion in wildfire damages for their clients. Cronin, Fried, Sekiya, Kekina & Fairbanks is a premier plaintiffs’ firm in Honolulu since 1973, with more than 50 verdicts and settlements of $1 million or more.

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