Local Attorneys File Suit Against SCE, Boeing Over Woolsey Fire

The remains of a car burned by the Woolsey Fire

A team of attorneys—many of them Malibu residents—have filed a suit placing the blame for the massively destructive Woolsey Fire with Southern California Edison and The Boeing Company.

Diane Marger Moore, Michael L. Baum, Ronald L. M. Goldman, Brian R. Strange, Brianna Strange, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. filed the suit on Tuesday, Feb. 5, in Los Angeles Superior Court, representing 105 people impacted by the November fire.

“Southern California Edison’s history of igniting cataclysmic fires is not, as the company maintains, a parade of bad luck,” environmental attorney and Malibu resident Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said in a statement provided by plaintiffs on Tuesday.

“Edison’s corporate culture reliably places corporate profits ahead of public safety, ignoring the fire dangers engendered by its business activities. The Woolsey Fire was not just foreseeable or predictable, it was inevitable. SCE and Boeing’s failure to prevent this disaster was reckless misconduct.”

The complaint alleges that the Woolsey Fire was “negligently started and wholly preventable.” 

The fire, which experts state began in Simi Valley at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory—owned by Boeing—destroyed about 750 homes and structures in Malibu alone.

According to plaintiffs, Southern California Edison did not perform brush clearance and did not shut down power lines, despite heightened danger. The suit claims SCE was negligent in “failing to maintain its overhead electrical facilities in a safe manner; failing to perform vegetation management in accordance with applicable regulations; and failing to timely and proactively shut down the Big Rock 16kV circuit to prevent a catastrophic wildfire during the forecasted Red Flag weather conditions that preceded the Woolsey Fire.”

As for Boeing, the complaint alleges the aerospace company “failed to perform vegetation management in a reasonable manner; failed to have an adequate fire prevention program or have adequately trained fire suppression personnel in place to prevent the types of fires that were reasonably anticipated in the dry conditions in California with the known Santa Ana winds; failed to maintain the property in a safe condition; and failed to warn neighboring property owners of the dangers inherent in the conditions of their property.”

According to information shared by the law firm Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman, PC, one of the plaintiffs in the case, the suit is the first filed after the Woolsey Fire to name Boeing as a defendant.