RUIDOSO, New Mexico, August 5, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Leading fire litigation firm Singleton Schreiber has filed a lawsuit against PNM Resources (PNM), alleging the utility company is responsible for the McBride fires that were started by its poorly maintained electric wires. The lawsuit also names the utility’s vegetation management contractor, Trees, Inc.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of dozens of plaintiffs who owned property in and near Ruidoso, New Mexico. The plaintiffs’ property was destroyed when the more than 6,000 acre fire tore through the area earlier this year.
According to the complaint, high winds pushed a pine tree over PNM’s power lines, causing a power outage that ignited dry vegetation and debris. Since it was PNM’s duty to manage these utility lines, easements and other right-of-way issues, PNM is accused of having completely failed in its obligation to maintain its equipment. The resulting disaster caused tens of millions of dollars in damage in Lincoln County alone according to the appraiser’s office.
Specifically, PNM is accused of the following negligent conduct:
- Failing to properly inspect and report hazardous vegetation in and around PNM facilities;
- Failure to properly repair, maintain, install and operate facilities in and around hazardous vegetation;
- Failing to adequately protect facilities from large trees that were often rooted in shallow soils, on a steep slope, or in close contact with electrical conductors;
- Failure to perform timely inspections and to identify and treat trees, brush and vegetation;
- Not following the National Electrical Safety Code and industry standards for vegetative management;
- And much more.
“The list of ways PNM Resources has mishandled this entire process is long, egregious and ultimately dangerous,” said Gerald Singleton, managing partner of Singleton Schreiber. “Had PNM followed standard procedure, this horrific fire would never have happened. Their negligence in handling their equipment, facilities and the vegetation that fueled this nightmare is unforgivable.”
According to the complaint, PNM failed to comply with the standards applicable to electric utilities in the New Mexico Stateincluding those defined in New Mexico Administrative Code § 17.9.560.13 and National Electrical Safety Code 214, among others.
“PNM’s failure to follow state laws during repairs, construction and maintenance puts the public at risk,” Singleton Schreiber said. Vern Payne, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New Mexico. “To make matters worse, they were made aware of these unsafe conditions and their subsequent behavior actually contributed to the size and spread of this fire.”
The case is Dennis R. Pyle, et al. v. PNM Resources, Trees, Inc.Second Judicial District Court of Bernalillo County, Case No. D-202-CV-8478111.
About Singleton Schreiber
With over 100 employees and offices across the west United StatesSingleton and his team have represented more than 10,000 utility fire victims and recovered approximately $1 billion in settlements and verdicts for its clients. The firm currently represents thousands of victims of the many fires in New Mexico, Californiaand Oregon. For more information, please visit https://singletonschreiber.com/mcbride-fire-lawyer/.
CONTACT: Joe Marchelewski, [email protected]
SOURCE Singleton Schreiber