Little Valley Fire Settlement Award – $25 Million

Published on June 11, 2019, by Matthew Sharp


Little Valley Fire Settlement Award – $25 Million

Reno personal injury attorney Matthew Sharp helped represent 105 victims who will divide $18 million of a $25 million settlement after the most devastating wild fire in recent Northern Nevada memory. Because of this settlement home and business owners who were victims of government negligence will be able to get their lives back to normal. During the nearly three years since the fire, Sharp has played a vital role in the course of discovery, mediation and claims for damages.

(Read the News article here)

In October of 2016 the Nevada Division of Forestry implemented and controlled a burn action in Cold Springs, Nevada along Little Valley road. The burn escaped containment and turned into a full scale wildfire that exploded out of control and destroyed 23 homes and other property in what grew into the Little Valley Fire. With a significant loss of property and homes, residents and businesses impacted by that fire brought forth legal action claiming negligence on the part of the Division of Forestry.

In August, 2018 a Washoe County jury found the Nevada Division of Forestry guilty of gross negligence. At the time, Sharp called the decision “a just verdict” and pointed out that the state should be held accountable for the damage they caused. During closing arguments in August, lead defense lawyer Steven Shevorski noted that mistakes were made and the state would accept the consequences. Those consequences came nine months later in the form of the $25 million settlement.

The lawyers for the fire victims listed a litany of problems with the implementation of the prescribed burn that grew out of control on October 14, 2016. They pointed out that the plan did not include an analysis of fuels adjacent to the burn as well as notes by a burn boss trainee that conditions had fallen out of prescription.

The below settlement includes two separate agreements: 
1.) an agreement with the subrogated insurers for $7 million, and 
2.) an agreement with the 105 individual plaintiffs for $18 million with the excess insurer for the State paying $15 million and the State paying $10 million. 

(Read the Settlement here)

The State’s portion of the settlement will be funded $7 million from the Statutory Contingency Account and $3 million will be paid from the Tort Fund. 

The Attorney General’s Office believes the settlement is in the best interest of the state and recommends moving forward with the state’s portion of the settlement payment in the amount of $10 million.