N.M., Aug. 5, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Leading fire
litigation firm Singleton Schreiber filed a lawsuit against PNM
Resources (PNM) alleging the utility company is responsible for the
McBride Fires which were ignited by its poorly maintained electric
wires. The lawsuit also names the utilities' vegetation management
contractor, Trees, Inc.
The complaint was filed on behalf of dozens of plaintiffs who
owned property in and near Ruidoso, New
Mexico. Plaintiffs' property was destroyed when the 6,000+
acre fire tore through the area earlier this year.
According to the complaint, high winds pushed a pine tree onto
PNM's utility lines, which caused an electrical fault that ignited
dry vegetation and debris. As it was PNM's duty to manage these
utility lines, easements and other right of way issues, PNM is
accused of completely failing in its obligation to maintain its
equipment. The resulting disaster caused tens of millions of
dollars' worth of damage in Lincoln
County alone according to the assessor's office.
Specifically, PNM is accused of the
following negligent behavior:
- Failing to properly inspect and report hazardous vegetation in
and around PNM facilities;
- Failing to properly repair, maintain, install and operate
facilities in and around hazardous vegetation;
- Failing to properly protect facilities from tall trees which
were often rooted in shallow soils, on a steep slope or in close
contact with electric conductors;
- Failing to perform timely inspections as well as identify and
deal with trees, brush and vegetation;
- Failing to follow the National Electric Safety Code and
industry standards for vegetative management;
- And much more.
"The list of ways PNM Resources mismanaged this entire process
is extensive, egregious, and ultimately dangerous," said
Gerald Singleton, Managing Partner
of Singleton Schreiber. "Had PNM followed standard procedure, this
horrific fire would never have occurred. Their negligence in
managing their equipment, facilities and the vegetation which
fueled this nightmare is unforgivable."
According to the complaint, PNM failed to comply with the
standards applicable to electric utilities in the State of New Mexico, including those set out
at New Mexico Administrative Code§ 17.9.560.13, and National
Electric Safety Code 214, amongst others.
"PNM's failure to abide by state laws during repairs,
construction and maintenance put the public at risk," said
Singleton Schreiber's Vern Payne,
the Former Chief Justice of the New Mexico Supreme Court. "Making
matters worse, they were made aware of these dangerous 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., County of Bernalillo Second
Judicial District Court, Case No. D-202-CV-8478111.
With more than 100 employees and offices throughout the western
United States, Singleton and his
team have represented more than 10,000 victims of utility fires and
has recovered approximately $1
billion in settlements and verdicts for its clients. The
firm currently represents thousands of victims of the numerous
fires in New Mexico, California, and Oregon. For more information, please visit
CONTACT: Joe Marchelewski,
SOURCE Singleton Schreiber