Can You Sue ERCOT for Financial Losses, Injury, or Wrongful Death?
TEXAS – A news story posted on bloomberglaw.com reviews the legal protections that are in place to protect power companies from most blackouts caused by severe weather. Advocates maintain that Texas’s current energy grid is mismanaged, and there needs to be greater accountability as climate change continues to bring more extreme storms to the state’s ill-prepared power grid. Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) manages 90% of Texas’s power grid.
Business Owners and Residents Affected by the Blackout Are Considering Class Action Lawsuits
Business owners and residents who have suffered financial losses, tragically lost loved ones, missed work, and suffered tremendously without power during the deadly cold weather are threatening to join a class action lawsuit to recover financial compensation. Although people often complain about electricity outages, this is one of the few power outages that has gained traction in terms of litigation.
Can ERCOT Be Sued for Injuries, Deaths, and Financial Losses?
Power companies are typically granted some legal protections to prevent “power outage lawsuits.” The protections are usually written into contracts that determine how much they are permitted to charge customers. In these contract tariffs, power companies are not held liable for power service interruptions due to events beyond their control, such as “acts of God.”
State laws and legal precedence govern power outrage litigation; however, electric companies could face liability in cases of gross negligence or willful misconduct. Moreover, courts are reluctant to allocate liability for weather-related outages if customers would ultimately incur the cost through their electricity rates, stated Melissa Powers, head of the Green Energy Institute at the Lewis and Clark Law School.
In Texas, the state’s grid operator dictated the rotating blackouts following a host of power grid system failures that caused power supply issues.
Have electricity customers ever won a power outage lawsuit?
Business customers and residential businesses have joined together to demand financial compensation from local power companies after major storms prompted extended blackouts. For example, in Nassau County, New York, residents filed a proposed class action lawsuit against their energy providers following Hurricane Sandy.
Could climate change open the door to gross negligence?
Climate change has been linked to an increase in severe weather worldwide. A legal movement intends to hold businesses responsible for “falling asleep at the switch.” One untested type of claim, a climate resilience claim, has emerged due to the recent extreme weather events. A climate resilience claim would bring a lawsuit to hold companies financially liable for failing to act competently with climate change.
Although the Texas power outages might not meet the legal standard from bringing a climate resilience claim, individual plaintiffs and plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit might argue the energy system operators and bulk grid operators failed to plan for climate change properly.
CONTACT PARKER WAICHMAN LLP FOR A FREE CASE REVIEW
Were you or a loved one harmed by the Texas power blackouts? Parker Waichman LLP helps families of the victims receive justice and full monetary compensation for harm caused by ERCOT. Trust your case with our power loss lawsuit lawyers. For a free consultation, contact our law firm today by using our live chat or calling 1-800-YOUR-LAWYER (1-800-968-7529).
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