Lawsuit filed on behalf of Montecito mudslide victims - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Lawsuit filed on behalf of Montecito mudslide victims

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Southern California Edison (SCE) and the Montecito Water District (MWD) are named in a lawsuit over the mudslides in Montecito that occurred following the Thomas Fire.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of multiple plaintiffs, accuses SCE of negligence, claiming that a problem with an SCE-owned transformer sparked the Thomas Fire near Santa Paula on Dec. 4, 2017. The suit says the fire, which burned 281,893 acres in both Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, left the forest area above Montecito devoid of vegetation, making it susceptible to excessive runoff and debris flows in the event of a heavy rainstorm.

On the morning of Tuesday, Jan. 9, massive mud and debris flows that resulted from a winter storm caused major damage in several Montecito neighborhoods and led to the deaths of at least 20 people as of Jan. 16.

The lawsuit also claims that water mains owned and operated by MWD failed that morning, adding millions of gallons of water to the flowing mud and debris.

The lawsuit does not seek a specific amount of money but does request damages for property repairs and replacement, emotional distress, loss of wages, attorney's fees, and other injuries. It also demands a jury trial.

In response to the lawsuit, Southern California Edison released the following statement to KSBY:
"The devastating impact of the mudslides in Montecito has been tragic. Our current focus right now is on supporting first responders. Immediately following that effort, our crews will attempt to safely expedite restoration of power to customers in that area due to damaged equipment.  In regards to the potential causes of the Thomas Fire, we understand that Cal Fire's investigation is ongoing, and it would be premature for SCE to speculate about potential litigation associated with the recent mudslides."

SCE is already facing multiple other lawsuits related to the Thomas Fire which claim the energy company was responsible for sparking the blaze.

KSBY has also reached out to the Montecito Water District for comment in regards to this latest lawsuit.

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