November 27, 2018

Some Unresolved Blackout Business



BY MICHELLE WAGNER

Outer Banks Sentinel 




Sixteen months after a week-long power outage plunged Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands into darkness during the heart of tourist season, Dare County and PCL Construction are still sparring over an unresolved claim.

The ill-timed blackout occurred when power lines were accidently severed by PCL Construction workers conducting replacement work on the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge. At the time, there were reports of businesses losing as much as $50,000 a week due to the accident.

At its Nov. 5 meeting, the Dare County Board of Commissioners went into closed session in reference to “Dare County v. PCL Civil Construction,” a matter County Manager Bobby Outten said has not yet been resolved. In this case, the county has asked for approximately $403,000 in lost tax revenue it incurred during the power outage.

When reached for comment this week, Outten said only that the county was “still working with attorneys to resolve” the dispute.

Meanwhile, an estimated $4.1 million has been paid out to claimants who suffered financial losses during the outage. Earlier this year, a U.S. District Court judge granted approval of a class action settlement for PCL Construction to provide $10.35 million, minus attorney fees, to businesses, vacationers and residents who were impacted by the mishap and power outage. Deadline to file a claim was Oct. 15.

Raleigh attorney Patrick Wallace, co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit, told the Sentinel that the $4.1 million figure was preliminary and that the settlement administrator has a little more than 100 claims left to process. While there are a total of 482 claims outstanding, Wallace noted that 365 of them are for a subrogation company that paid vacationers’ insurance benefits.

 “We expect to finish the claims administration process shortly,” Wallace asserted, noting that Dare County is not part of the class action suit.

For her part, PCL’s manager of U.S. Communications Stephanie McCay said she “can’t comment on the claims process.” She also added that, in regard to the outstanding matter with Dare County, “the only thing we can disclose is that it is being handled by insurance – whoever is handling the claims process.”

The adjusting firm of Crawford and Company has been processing the claims.



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