On September 4, 2023, Andrews & Thornton and their Hawaii co-counsel, Bickerton Law Group filed one of the first wrongful death lawsuits on behalf of a victim of the August 8th Lahaina fire, Rebecca Rans. The suit names Hawaiian Electric and its subsidiaries as defendants, along with Maui County, the State of Hawaii, and the Trustees of the Bishop Estate. One aspect of the tragedy that will be uncovered through this lawsuit is that large plots of land owned by Maui County, the State of Hawaii, and Bishop Estate were left to be completely overgrown by non-native grasses and brush. In dry, windy conditions, these grasses caused the unbelievably rapid spread of the fire, accelerating it towards the town of Lahaina in the early morning hours. Had these hazardous conditions been controlled with proper vegetation management, many lives could have been saved. These hazards were known well ahead of time but nothing was done to control them.
Adding onto the danger was the lack of a cogent emergency response by the County and the State when faced with a rapidly spreading fire. Together with HECO’s powerline as the origin of the fire, each of these defendants were in a position to prevent the loss of life and property but did not do so. Rebecca Rans is represented in the suit by her father, Harold Dennis Wells, who is grieving the loss of his daughter. Thankfully, Rebecca’s remains were identified by the FBI very early on, bringing at the very least a sense of certainty while so many other families await the worst.
Link to Newly Filed Maui Fire Complaint: 2023-09-04 – Wells, Harold D obo Rebecca – Certified Complaint (Maui Fires)
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