(CN) – Two North Carolina law firms have filed class actions against the construction company that accidentally caused island-wide power outages in the state’s Outer Banks.
The federal lawsuits, both filed in Raleigh on Monday, claim PCL Construction, the company that accidentally drove a steel pylon through two power transmission lines during bridge construction, acted negligently and left thousands of residents, tourists and businesses without power at the height of tourist season.
The power went out last Thursday and remains out in much of the popular vacation destination. Gov. Roy Cooper soon issued a state of emergency shortly after the power went out and called for the mandatory evacuation of thousands of visitors.
As of Tuesday, one of two damaged transmission lines has been spliced back together and generators have been used to restore power to some areas of the islands, but many are still without electricity.
But that did little to ease the anger of those affected by the massive outage.
“In designing and building the Bonner Bridge, PCL had a duty to exercise reasonable care during construction so as not to cause any interference with the vacation rental plans of individuals and families in the affected area,” court documents state.
Two new suits from the Law Office of Jean Sutton Martin and Whitfield Bryson & Mason are seeking compensation for residents’ loss of vacation revenue and evacuation costs.
“The tourism industry and hotels, resorts, restaurants, commercial fisherman, rental owners and other tourism-reliant businesses have lost and continue to lose income,” said attorney Daniel Bryson, “And property owners have suffered the loss, damage, and/or diminution of the value of their properties throughout the Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands.”
Martin’s suit estimates that around 5,000 class members lost more than $5 million in out-of-pocket expenses associated with the evacuation and loss of business and vacation rental revenue.
When asked for comment, PCL Communications Manager Stephanie McCay said, “It is the policy of PCL to not comment on matters of prospective litigation. We respect and defer to the adjudicative process, and will submit our positions when called upon in the appropriate forum.”