Yarnell Hill Fire homeowners ask appellate court to allow them to sue the state

Court of Appeals

Above: Hearing in the Court of Appeals, September 21, 2016. Screen grab from video.

From the Insurance Journal:

Attorneys for Yarnell residents who lost their homes in the deadly 2013 Arizona wildfire are asking the Court of Appeals to allow their clients to sue the state.

KJZZ-FM reported that previously homeowners sued the state Forestry Division, but a trial judge dismissed the case concluding the state had no duty to protect the residents’ property.

At a hearing [September 21, 2016] an attorney for the state said Arizona is not responsible for protecting everyone who chooses to live adjacent to wilderness.

Plaintiffs’ attorney David Abney says that since the state fought the fire, it voluntarily agreed to try to protect Yarnell. Abney wants the appellate court to give his clients a chance to make their case to a jury.

The 2013 Yarnell wildfire killed 19 firefighters and burned more than 120 homes.

To our knowledge, the Court of Appeals has not yet handed down their decision.

Video from the hearing is available on YouTube.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, Bill Gabbert now writes about it from the Black Hills. Google+

2 thoughts on “Yarnell Hill Fire homeowners ask appellate court to allow them to sue the state”

  1. “Plaintiffs’ attorney David Abney says that since the state fought the fire, it voluntarily agreed to try to protect Yarnell.” Really?!? By this logic everything would have been just fine with the property owners if the state had just let the fire burn freely.

    People who choose the benefits of living in wilderness or wilderness-urban interface areas (or anywhere) should also bear the responsibilities and consequences of their choices. I hope this suit stays dismissed.

  2. This is a subset of the larger issue that the government or government agencies have no duty to provide public services to individuals and there don’t seem to be any federal laws requiring public safety agencies to respond. Fire, police, EMS, and rescue services are in kind of a legal limbo. Warren vs. District of Columbia

    The fact that public safety agencies do respond to threats to life is a function of policy or doing the right thing and doing what is expected. In the absence of policy or state law there doesn’t seem to be a legal duty of care. Don’t know if Arizona has any duty of care or duty to act legislation.

    Until this “duty to act” legal business is sorted out, there continues to be some legal incentive for government agencies not to act.

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