Corral Wildfire Damage Totals Jump Fivefold as Lawsuit Gels
BY BILL KOENEKER
Claims of more than $450 million in property damage from the Corral Canyon fire last November have been filed, according to a local attorney consolidating the cases.
Malibu attorney James Devitt said the initial estimates of damage put at around $100 million have been greatly surpassed.
“The reason the claims in these cases have escalated is due to the fact that much more than homes were burned in this fire. Many homeowners or tenants in Corral and Latigo Canyon[s] had valuable artworks and other irreplaceable media lost,” he noted, in a press release issued to the local media.
Devitt cited as an example a record producer who lost numerous irreplaceable master recordings as well as very expensive instruments and equipment. The producer has worked for such artists as Avril Lavigne and Pink.
The producer Butch Walker was living in the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ bassist Flea’s house.
Some of the most discouraging news, though, comes from residents who believed they could reuse their foundations. They have since found out is not altogether true. In many cases that seems to be the exception and not the rule, some would-be builders insist.
New foundations will likely mean new geology reports and new engineering approvals totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to Devitt.
In the media missive, the Malibu attorney maintains that 80 percent of the homeowners and tenants with major damages have already retained his firm along with two other law firms.
However, the statute of limitations for filing government claims will expire on May 24, 2008.
If any damaged party does not file by that date, they will be barred from recovery since this is considered a “mass action and not a “class action,” according to Devitt.
Besides the monetary damages, the lawsuits will be seeking a court order to force the state Department of Parks and Recreation to install a gate on Corral Canyon Road in an attempt to prevent partygoers from going to the “rave cave” at night.
Devitt stated no other government entities would be sued since “they are
protected by governmental immunities or previous case law.”
However, he insists, State Parks knew about the “rave cave,” for the past 20 years, but refused to take action by installing a gate or taking other security measures.
“Because of that failure and the state failure to hire enough park rangers or cut the brush around the cave area, the situation was exasperated [sic]. It is outrageous that State Park’s refuses to address the situation since it would be so simple and inexpensive to install a gate and have a ranger lock it at sunset.”