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Tentative agreement reached in power outage lawsuits

A tentative agreement has been submitted to a United States District Court Judge for approval that could allow businesses, residents, vacation rental owners and even some tourists to recover monetary damages suffered in a 2017 power outage on the Outer Banks.

If approved as presented, plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit against PCL Construction will share about $10 million.

According to the civil action complaint North Carolina Department of Transportation awarded a design-build contract to PCL in 2011 for the a Herbert C. Bonner Bridge replacement over Oregon Inlet between Bodie Island and Hatteras Island for an estimated cost of $246 million.

The complaint says also that on or about July 27, 2017, underwater power transmission cables supplying power to Hatteras and Ocracoke islands were cut by PCL Construction workers.

The result was a massive outage for Hatteras and Ocracoke islands followed by the evacuation of both islands when North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper to declared a State of Emergency for the area. The power outage from July 27 to August 3, in the heart of the Outer Banks tourist season, forced some 40,000 or more visitors off Hatteras and Ocracoke islands.

This past October a U.S. District Court Judge for the Eastern District of North Carolina ruled that the multiple lawsuits against PCL Construction had similar claims and legal issues. The judge combined all of them into one action.

One of several lawyers involved in the case, Dennis C. Rose with Rose Harrison and Gilreath P.C. in Kill Devil Hills, said he was not at liberty to discuss details of the settlement but once the agreement is approved the next step will be trying to figure out how to contact all the people involved.

“The local businesses and homeowners are not a problem,” said Rose. “It’s the people in other states and in Canada that will take some time.”

Court procedures allow a judge to approve the settlement as presented, modify it or even send it back for additional work. There is no set time frame for the judge’s review.

The United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina serves 44 eastern counties in North Carolina.

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