$36.5 Million Verdict Against Construction Companies For Wildfire Damage

rainforest fire burning

You start the wildfire, you pay for it. 

Two construction companies were found negligent and ordered to pay $36.5 million in damages and costs resulting from a 2002 Santa Clara wildfire that began when sparks from an electric grinder ignited dry grass and brush.  

It is the first-ever award for environmental damages caused by a wildfire, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office said.  

Reuters:  Prosecutors had accused Merco Construction Engineers Inc and its subcontractor, CB&I Constructors Inc, of negligence in the Copper Fire, started when metal sparks and slag from an electric grinder ignited dry grass and brush near Santa Clarita on June 5, 2002.

The fire quickly spread to the nearby Angeles National Forest, charring 18,000 acres and irreparably harming the habitat of a threatened frog species, prosecutors said.

The government’s lawsuit claimed that a Merco employee had not properly watered down the site where workers were building steel water tanks for a housing development, and that the CB&I employee had directed sparks from the grinder into dry brush. Continue reading>

This is the second groundbreaking legal environmental result in as many weeks.  Last week the 2nd Circuit reinstated global warming lawsuits, saying the plaintiffs could sue under a common law nuisance theory.  

NOW WATCH: Briefing videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.