A second lawsuit has been filed in Santa Barbara Superior Court in the Thomas Fire and flood against Southern California Edison and Montecito Water District, while the first suit has lost a plaintiff. Plum Goods owner Amy Cooper, one of three plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed on January 16, told the Independent, “We removed ourselves from that suit.” Her intent, she said, was to sue Edison for allegedly starting the fire, and she hadn’t agreed or understood that the water district was going to be sued.
“We certainly lost a lot of money,” she said of the effect on her business by the fire’s smoke and ash as well as the evacuations. “And I’d hate to criticize anyone in the suit,” she said as she explained that she’d removed her store from the prosecution because the public perception “became so out of line with who we are in this company.”
The new lawsuit, filed on January 23 by the same trio of attorney firms, outlines the same set of events and allegations: that the fire’s ignition source was an Edison company transformer and that Edison did not maintain its system correctly. The allegations against Montecito Water District are also the same: that the district failed to ensure its backup system would work to close valves when pipes broke and the power was off.
The plaintiffs are six couples or individuals who own homes or rental property damaged or destroyed by the mudflow either completely or to some degree. One is a disabled woman who was trapped in her home for several days. Though they allege emotional distress, the complaint does not allude to physical injury.
The 30 days in which defendants have to respond to either lawsuit have yet to elapse, though a Case Management Conference is set for May before Judge Donna Geck.