In August 2023, wildfires erupted across Maui killing more than 100 people, destroying thousands of structures and many more hundreds of families are tragically still without their loved ones.

Andrews & Thornton has teamed up with Hawai‘i lawyers Bickerton Law Group. Our hearts are heavy, and go out to our friends, loved ones, and the entire Lahaina community and all of Maui in the wake of the devastating fires. This is a tragedy that no one should ever have to bear, and the community needs everyone to help in any way they can. Those responsible for this preventable disaster must be held accountable, so that lives lost are properly respected, injuries are compensated, and lost assets and livelihoods are restored. We are committed to these vital tasks.

Creative Solutions

WE ARE THE FIRST LAWYERS TO SUE LANDOWNERS FOR CONTRIBUTING TO THE FIRES, INCLUDING THE STATE, COUNTY OF MAUI AND BISHOP ESTATE. Other lawyers are focused on the easy target – Hawaiian Electric. However, there was plenty of fault to go around.

For years, as Maui continued to get drier and hotter, the spread of invasive, non-native, flammable grasses and brush vegetation took over the island, the electrical system continued to decay, and the potential for increased fires originating in and/or fueled by these grasslands was actively discussed among governmental officials, utilities and informed academics and well-known to owners of such grasslands. The combination of weather, uncontrolled vegetation and aging electrical infrastructure created a tinderbox ready to explode in Maui. The risk was not theoretical. Grass-originated and grass-fed fires continue to grow in Hawai‘i.

Andrews & Thornton, along with partners Bickerton Law Group, is going to pursue every possible target and not rely on the financial wherewithal of a single private entity.

Hawaiʻi Utility Did Not Harden Grid in Time or Cut the Power

Before the Maui wildfires, Hawaiian Electric knew that its aging infrastructure posed a tremendous risk in high wind conditions but waited for decades to harden the grid. Since it could not harden the grid in time, Hawaiian Electric needed to make backup plans. Hawaiian Electric did not have a plan adopted widely in California and other states to shut off power to certain lines in advance of dangerous winds. There are numerous reports of downed power lines in the origin areas of several fires.

Recovering Damages After the Maui Fire 

Andrews & Thornton has litigated countless cases affecting the people of Hawaiʻi including the Red Hill fuel contamination, serious liver injuries and deaths from the dangerous dietary supplement OxyElite Pro, and the Hepatitis A outbreak from scallops sold at Genki Sushi. Andrews & Thornton has deep experience with fire cases, including the massive 2017 firestorm in the North Bay Area of California and the devastating 2018 Camp Fire.

Andrews & Thornton also understands what it takes to put a big company through bankruptcy to make sure victims are fairly compensated. We played a major role in the PG&E bankruptcy. We represent the resulting Fire Victim’s Trust. We have been involved in several other large bankruptcies with large victim-creditor groups, including Purdue Pharma and Boy Scouts of America. These are complicated proceedings and you need lawyers who understand how to maximize recoveries.

Responsible Parties

We are not shortcut lawyers. Some lawyers may just look for the easiest targets. However, we look for all responsible parties to make sure you are made whole.

Hawaiian Electric

Most lawyers so far have rightfully focused on electric companies as the cause of the Maui fires. Indeed, four days before fast-moving brush fires engulfed parts of Maui, weather forecasters warned authorities that powerful wind gusts would trigger dangerous fire conditions across much of the island and Hawaiʻi.

The state’s electric utility responded with some preemptive steps but did not use what is widely regarded as the most aggressive but effective safety measure: shutting down the power.  

Hawaiian Electric, the utility that oversees Maui Electric and provides service to 95 percent of the state’s residents, did not deploy what’s known as a “public power shutoff plan,” which involves intentionally cutting off electricity to areas where big wind events could spark fires. A number of states including California have increasingly adopted this safety strategy after what were then the nation’s most destructive and deadliest fires, in 2017 and 2018.

Other Parties

However, we will explore other parties who may have contributed to the Maui fires. For years, officials were warned of increasing fire risks in the state of Hawaiʻi. In 2014, a wildfire protection plan for Maui concluded the high risk for Lahaina due to dry brush, steep terrain and frequent powerful winds. They laid out a plan to reduce the risk including vegetation management near populated areas. Indeed, in 2018 three fires broke out on Maui and destroyed over 2,000 acres and destroyed dozens of homes. A 2020 report noted the spread of invasive, flammable grass across huge swaths of the island as a contributing factor. A failure to implement proper emergency preparedness and maintain property covered with this non-native grass contributed to the 2023 Maui fires. Rest assured, we will leave no stone unturned.

Contact Our Experienced Fire Attorneys Today by filling out the form above for a Free Consultation

If You Experienced Any of the Following, You Could Be Eligible to Recover Compensation from those responsible:

  • Damaged or destroyed homes or other structures
  • Damaged or destroyed personal property such as furniture, vehicles, tools, equipment, and other belongings
  • Damaged or destroyed trees and vegetation
  • Erosion following the fire
  • Clean-up costs
  • Bodily injury
  • Death of a loved one
  • Evacuation costs
  • Out-of-pocket costs
  • Emotional distress
  • Psychological impact
  • Loss of enjoyment of property
  • Lost business or personal income