Former Hotshots assistant superintendent files wrongful death claims on behalf of families.
Prescott attorney Thomas Kelly, who once served as assistant superintendent of the Prescott Hotshots, has filed 12 separate wrongful death claims on behalf of the families of the Granite Mountain Hotshots killed June 30 in the Yarnell Hill Fire.
The death claims, seeking $237.5 million in damages, were filed against the city of Prescott, Central Yavapai County Fire District, the Arizona Forestry Division, Yavapai County and four fire commanders who were working under the state’s direction on June 30.
The alleged negligent acts took place over the period from the start of the fire at about 5:30 p.m., Friday, June 28 through about an hour leading up to the time at which the Hotshots were entrapped. Allegedly, an airborne supervisor “left the fire without explanation” and did not provide another airborne supervisor, who was just arriving on the scene, with the location of the Hotshots.
The Hotshots left a burned-over safe zone above the town of Yarnell sometime after 4 p.m., just as a powerful thunderstorm approached from the northeast. The fire was moving towards the high-desert town. The crew descended into a chaparral-choked box canyon where they were entrapped by a rapidly approaching 2,000-degree firestorm.
Damages sought in Hotshots wrongful death range from $5 million to $50 million
The amount of damages sought for each family varies depending on the number of survivors and ranges from $5 million to $50 million.
The claimants are also seeking non-monetary damages “from those who caused this travesty…so that history will not repeat itself.” The compensation sought includes adopting new policies and protocol changes to ensure the safety of firefighters, as well as incorporating specific safety standards and equipment.
Additional damages sought are for developing and funding an educational program whose curriculum would include outlining the environmental and human factors that caused the deaths of the Hotshot crew, as well as funding annual scholarships for individuals in need of financial assistance to undergo training.
The claims list 31 “willful, reckless, negligent and careless acts” that contributed to the “wrongful” deaths of the 19 hotshots, as well as state that families “will participate in good faith mediation to explore alternative compensation models, including non-monetary compensation to settle all claims resulting from the intentional, willful, reckless, careless and negligent acts of the City of Prescott, Yavapai County, Central Yavapai Fire District and State of Arizona.”
Personal Injury Attorneys PLLC