Legal Newsline

Friday, December 13, 2019

Lawsuits over this summer's Outer Banks power outage consolidated

By Elizabeth Alt | Nov 15, 2017

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RALEIGH, N.C. (Legal Newsline) – Chief Justice James C. Dever III of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina has ordered plaintiffs in multiple lawsuits against a construction company to consolidate their lawsuits, which focus on damages and losses suffered by a power outage in July.

The order was made Oct. 12 after the plaintiffs in six cases requested to consolidate in September.

According to the complaint filed by Island Vibe Cafe and others in July, defendants PCL Civil Constructors Inc., PCL Construction Enterprises Inc. and PCL Construction Services Inc. caused damage to the main power transmission line to the Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands during construction of a bridge on July 27, which caused "widespread electrical power outages."

The complaint states Gov. Roy Cooper called for a mandatory evacuation that forced thousands of tourists to leave the islands in the height of the usually busy summer season after the power outage.

The plaintiffs claimed the outage caused an economic loss from lost rentals, business to local shops, lost wages and tourist income. The plaintiffs in the cases include owners of vacation rental properties, a charter boat captain, multiple Outer Banks retailers, island hourly workers and renters staying on island during the power outage who lost out on their vacations. 

The plaintiffs claimed PCL breached its duty to exercise reasonable care, resulting in the loss of income for area businesses, financial hardship for workers, loss of finances for both renters and owners of vacation properties, when tourists were forced to evacuate after the power outage. 

Plaintiffs Island Vibe Café; Marissa Gross, doing business as Down Creek Galleries; Miss Ocracoke Inc., et al.; Matthew Breveleri et al.; Briggs McEwan; and Thomas and Nina Edgar, et al. will consolidate their lawsuits, and a seventh plaintiff, Arch Insurance, may join the class suit as well.

Hatteras and Ocracoke are islands off the lower outer banks coast of North Carolina.  As popular summer vacation destinations, tourists flock to the islands during the summer months. Both of the islands' residents and businesses depend on the summer tourist revenue to sustain them during winter months. 

The parties are to appear on Dec. 18 for an initial status conference.

Interim lead counsel for plaintiffs are Whitfield Bryson & Mason LLP, the Zaytoun Law Firm and Wallace & Graham, P.A. 

Other firms making up the Plaintiffs Steering Committee are: the Law Offices of Jean Martin PLLC; McCune Wright Arevalo LLP; Morgan & Morgan Complex Litigation Group; Hendren, Redwine & Malone, PLLC; Rose Harrison & Gilreath, P.C.; and Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLP.

Eastern District Court of North Carolina Eastern Division, case number 4:17-CV-141-D

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U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina Raleigh Division