Tree Trimming Service Sued for Damages in 2011 Fires

High way and smoke in the distance

Credit: NBCDFW

A national tree trimming service company has been named in a $35 million dollar suit filed by a Texas utility company on behalf of its ratepayers. The utility company, Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative, alleges that the tree-trimming service, Asplundh Tree Expert Co. of Willow Grove, Pa., failed to properly maintain vegetation before the 2011 Central Texas wildfires. The wildfires destroyed nearly 1,700 homes.

Asplundh spokeswoman, Bonnie Gauker said that the company is declining to comment on the pending lawsuit allegations. Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative has been named as the defendant in more than 50 legal suits from homeowners whose residences burned in Bastrop County.

On Labor Day, 2011, a blaze was started when strong winds knocked down branches and trees that crashed into overhead power lines. According to Texas A&M Forest Service investigation, the downed limbs and trees caused sparks parks that ultimately started the fire.

In 2005, Bluebonnet contracted with Asplundh Tree Expert Co. to manage vegetation, including trimming trees, along the utility’s 11,000 miles of power lines that cover a total of 14 counties, including Bastrop County. The lawsuit includes a signed agreement between the utility and Asplundh in which the contractor assumes responsibility and liability for any destruction of property that isn’t caused by negligence on behalf of Bluebonnet.

According to Bluebonnet spokesman, Will Holford, the utility company is suing Asplundh in order to pay its electric cooperative members.

Holford stated that what they are doing is in the best interests of their membership and part of carrying out their responsibility to their members was to file a lawsuit against Asplundh. Since the company we hired for its expertise in vegetation management and it appears that the tree service failed to perform the work it was hired to do according to the contract that was signed between the two companies.

According to Holford, Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative terminated its business relationship with Asplundh Tree Expert Co. earlier this year.

Wildfires are devastating and unpredictable. Homeowners, business owners, farmers, ranchers, and churches all have the reasonable expectation that the utility company that brings electrical service to their properties and the subcontractors that are hired by them are doing their jobs properly. The unfortunate victims of this wildfire in Bastrop County have rights to receive damages for the loss of their home and any pain and suffering that has been caused by negligence.

Insurance companies like to settle claims quickly, often undercutting the true value of a person’s home or business. These companies are often more mindful of the profits of their investors than they are protecting the best interests of those who hold policies underwritten by them. It is important to have an experienced accident and personal injury attorney on your side to insure that your best interests are protected.

If you or a loved one has suffered a loss due to a fire or wildfire or has had property damaged because of the negligence of others, give our offices a call. We will match you with an attorney who will be there to represent you and have your best interests clearly in mind. Medical costs, loss of property, reconstruction, pain and suffering for your loss are all things that insurance settlements don’t always cover. We are here to help you. When you call, your initial consultation with one of our lawyers is confidential and without cost to you. We have years of experience successfully representing our clients in the Texas courts. Call us today.

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