Class action lawsuit filed against company responsible for OBX power outage

This image shows damaged transmission cables at the Bonner Bridge. Officials said two of three cables were damaged, causing a massive outage and the evacuation of thousands of tourists. (Photo courtesy of the Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative.)

OCRACOKE ISLAND, N.C. (WNCT) – Businesses and homeowners impacted by the power outage along Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands have filed a class action lawsuit against the company responsible for damaging the power cables.

Whitefield Bryson & Mason LLP (WBM) filed the lawsuit Monday against PCL Construction. The construction company was responsible for doing work on the Bonner Bridge. However, during construction work on July 27, three power transmission cables were damaged, cutting power to Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands.

The mistake forced mandatory evacuations, impacting thousands of residents and putting an early end to many people’s vacations.

“When you have an area like that that is dependent primarily on three months of the year people coming and visiting and spending money coming to businesses, this shut out a major portion of what they expect to survive on for the year,” said Matthew Lee, a lawyer with Whitfield Bryson & Mason.

The plantiffs include two vacation rental owners and an art gallery owner who say they have been devastated by the loss of business and tourism income during peak vacation season. They argue that PCL could have prevented the power loss from happening.

“They cut a major power line that they should have known about,” said Lee. “They should have known it was there. They should have marked it well on their plans.”

The firm didn’t specify the dollar amount they are seeking, just that the plaintiffs deserve to be replayed for suffering losses due to someone else’s negligence.

“It’s pretty clear who is responsible here,” Lee said. “The construction company made a mistake, and you know, they say everyone makes mistakes, but everyone also needs to be accountable for the costs they cause other people.”

Governor Roy Cooper toured the impacted area Monday and said he hopes someone pays for the mistake.

“I hope that there is a way that people can be reimbursed and I think we should work hard to make sure people are as whole as possible,” Cooper said.

Some business owners have said they lost thousands of pounds of food during the power outage. The outage likely cost the impacted areas millions of dollars, as it happened during the heart of the tourism season.

The lawsuit filed claims the construction company’s mistake severely damaged their ability to make a living with the tourism dollars they normally see. You can see the full complaint here.




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