A wildland firefighter burned over 70% of his body in the 2015 Twisp River blaze has reached a $5 million settlement with two utility companies for failing to keep branches away from a power line cited by authorities as the cause of the fire.
"I am very grateful that my case calls attention to the plight of injured first responders," plaintiff Daniel Lyon said in a press release. "I am also grateful my case has reached a settlement so that I can now move on with my life knowing I will have the resources I need for the future."
Lyon is the sole survivor of a four-person engine crew overcome by flames during the Twisp River Fire.
The settlement was reached prior to oral arguments scheduled this week before the Washington Supreme Court.
Attorneys for Lyon argued that the Okanogan County Electric Cooperative and the Douglas County Public Utility District No. 1 caused the fire after failing to responsibly manage vegetation near their powerlines.
The case was initially dismissed by an Okanogan County court in October 2018, which cited the state's professional rescue doctrine that bars such claims since the injuries resulted from risks inherent to firefighting.
An appeal to the Washington Supreme Court argued that the doctrine was unconstitutional under the state constitution because it denies fire responders the right to trial by jury.
The doctrine is based on a broad policy of assumption of risk, a statement released by Lyons' lawyers, Evergreen Personal Injury Counsel, said.
"Nearly half the states in the nation have abandoned the professional rescue doctrine because of its inherent unfairness to first responders," the statement reads.
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