Individual Claims Filed for Damages to Business Owners on Ocracoke and Hatteras Islands
Tens of thousands of vacationers and non-residents were forced to flee Ocracoke and Hatteras Islands the last week in July taking potentially millions of dollars of prime-time summer revenues with them.
Why? Not the usual hurricanes islanders are used to and can prepare for. Instead, negligence and human error caused a complete electrical blackout along the 70-mile stretch of these islands in Hyde and Dare Counties – some of our state’s most beautiful and profitable revenue-generating tourism spots.
This “mistake” on the part of PCL Civil Constructors, Inc. of Raleigh, the company building the new $250 million Bonner Bridge across Oregon Inlet, has been blamed for this catastrophic power outage, which has caused irreversible economic damages to thousands of business owners in the Outer Banks.
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If you or someone you know owns a business on Ocracoke or Hatteras Islands and lost revenue due to PCL’s negligence, contact us immediately or call 1-866-900-7078.
We will file individual claims (not class action claims) against PCL for damages for interference with business relations. Compensation may potentially include:
- Loss of revenue
- Loss of business opportunities
- Consequential costs, such as purchase and use of generators
- Loss of enjoyment of property
What Happened on July 27th?
We know PCL was working under an “accelerated” schedule to finish the bridge. And we know they had the schematics of where the power lines were. We also know they accidentally cut the electrical lines to these islands. Based on our research and sources, we believe PCL was clearly negligent and is at fault for forcing tens of thousands of vacationers to evacuate.
Governor Roy Cooper apparently agrees. He stated in a WUNC interview,
"I hope that there is a way that people can be reimbursed. Clearly this was a company's fault, and I think that we should work hard to make sure people are made as whole as possible."
Outer Banks’ Busiest Time for Businesses
The blackout occurred right at the peak of the busy summer season when hundreds of businesses depend on revenues from the tens of thousands of tourists and vacationers who were visiting at the time. Per capita, Dare County is the #1 revenue producer in North Carolina, and Hatteras Island alone accounted for $204 million of that revenue in 2011.
Hyde County spokesman Donnie Shumate stated in a USA Today interview about Ocracoke’s situation, “The island was at capacity when all this went down, and this is usually the busiest time of the year. It will be a major hit economically depending on how long it lasts."
Governor Cooper who referred to these islands as the “crown jewel in our state,” declared a state of emergency.
While many businesses are still struggling from the devastation left by Hurricanes Irene in 2011 and Arthur in 2014, this latest setback may have been the last blow for some businesses. No business is immune – from surf shops, fishing charters and tackle shops, to hotels, gift shops, vacation rental agencies, restaurants, gas stations, and convenience stores.
Local TV station WTKR interviewed a restaurant owner who lost 250 pounds of pristine flounder fillets he had in his freezer. This was his entire stock for the summer season, and he said he’s unlikely to get more. Not only will he have to throw out more than $3,000 worth of spoiled food, he estimates that he’s losing $5,000 in sales every day his restaurant is not open for business.
The mandatory evacuation of every tourist and vacationer for an indefinite period of time will undoubtedly hit these small businesses hard. Some business owners are worried that not only will tourists not return for the remainder of the summer, but neither might some of their seasonal employees.
Meanwhile, local business owners who have taken the hit from the blackout itself, are worried things won't get back to normal when the power is restored. Many tourists will undoubtedly change their plans.
Why We Will File Individual Claims vs a Class Action
Many businesses may mistakenly believe their damages will automatically be covered by a class action claim. Unfortunately, this belief may not be correct and here are two reasons to be skeptical.
- Class certification can be a long and difficult process
- Class members only recover damages that are common to the class
It is likely to take at least six months before any action is taken on class certification. Afterward, any decision is likely to be appealed.
There are legal hurdles under Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure that may prevent class certification. Although the statute of limitations is tolled (suspended) for claims within the class, your right to make some claims may expire while you are waiting for certification.
Hotels, gas stations, fishing charters, rental agencies, restaurants, and surf shops are all likely to have a variety of different damages. In a class action, all those represented in the class must file for the same type of damages. For example, all hotels may have a class claim for loss of room revenue.
Benefits of Filing Individual Claims
We believe filing an individual claim gives you the best chance at the maximum recovery for your unique circumstances.
- Each individual is allowed to present their FULL damages for recovery, not just the damages that are common to the class representatives.
- We will seek designation as an exceptional case and petition for a Rule 2.1 judge, which can designate a case as exceptional or complex.
- We can band the cases together for certain administrative processes and discovery, saving costs and expenses.
Get North Carolina Lawyers to Review Your Outer Banks Blackout Claim
We are taking calls for Outer Banks blackout claims now. If you or someone you know owns a business and lost money because of the blackout on Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands, contact us or call 1-866-900-7078. You could potentially receive compensation for your losses.