Outer Banks business owners sue construction company for massive outage

By Industries FOXBusiness

(Joelle Gould)

Business owners in North Carolina’s Outer Banks have filed multiple class action lawsuits against a construction company blamed for a massive power outage, which forced them to close shop during the height of summer busy season.

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At least three lawsuits filed this week seek compensation from PCL Construction, a Canadian based construction company, after their crews damaged power lines last Thursday while working to replace a major bridge. The mistake cut off power to Ocracoke and Hatteras Islands, forcing more than 50,000 tourists to evacuate.

Business owners claim their companies are losing thousands of dollars a day. In 2015, visitors spent more than $1 billion in the Outer Banks, according to The Outer Banks Voice.

"We have been contacted by hundreds of individuals and businesses affected by this incident. Most businesses on these islands rely on the summer season to make it through the year. If this goes on as long as expected some of these small businesses may be devastated and never recover,” Joseph G. Sauder, a partner at McCune, Wright, Arevalo, who represents one of the lawsuits filed Monday, tells FOX Business.

He says the outage also affects many hourly employees who are now no longer getting paid.

"People with rental properties will incure significant losses and renters who saved up to take a family vacation have incurred unreimbursed travel and rental expenses. We look forward to pursuing the case on behalf of everyone who has been financially impacted," Sauder adds.

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Tim Hagerich, 35, who owns a charter fishing company in Hatteras Island tells FOX Business that he’s losing $400 to $600 a day.

“I only work three to four months a year and I’m losing money that I need for my family during the winter months and they just told us that it will likely be six to 10 more days until the problem is fixed, which is going to end up costing me $6,000 to $8,000,” Hagerich says.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) said Tuesday he believes the company responsible for the outage should pay for damages once all the facts are known.

Lawsuits filed in state and federal courts claim PCL, which is currently building the long-needed replacement bridge over Oregon Inlet, was negligent and should pay for the financial losses suffered by businesses at the peak of vacation season.

PCL did not return FOX Business’ request for a comment.