Insurance companies suing U.S. Government for 2016 Gatlinburg wildfires claims

Tennessee

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — More than a dozen insurance companies are suing the U.S. government for damages stemming from the 2016 Gatlinburg wildfires.

Court documents filed Monday by 14 insurance companies against the federal government show the groups are collectively seeking damages to cover the claims made following the wildfires in November 2016; the lawsuit was filed under the Federal Tort Claims Act “for damages arising from the negligent acts or omissions on the part of employees or agents of the Department of the Interior and/or National Park Service in response to the Chimney Tops 2 Fire in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.”

The insurance companies are seeking no less than $200 million, court document state.

The claims asserted in the court documents by the insurance companies “arise out of certain actions, omissions,and otherwise negligent conduct by employees of the DOI and/or NPS, a component of the DOI and authorized agent of the USA, which resulted in, among other things, substantial property losses incurred by Plaintiffs’ insureds.”

This means the insurance companies are alleging incompetence on the part of government employees during the Gatlinburg wildfire events, leading to their customers’ (the “insureds”) loss of property.

This is not the first lawsuit stemming from the Gatlinburg wildfires.

In August, 88 plaintiffs who resided near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park filed suit seeking damages from the U.S. government after the November 2016 Gatlinburg wildfires.

That lawsuit also alleged negligence on the part of the government employees – and the plaintiffs sought a collective $37,350,108 in compensatory damages.

The November 2016 Gatlinburg wildfires claimed 14 lives and more than 1,400 buildings burned.

WATE 6 On Your Side reached out to the National Park Service for comment.

A NPS spokesperson responded Friday:

“By policy, the National Park Service does not comment on active litigation.”

Dana Soehn, National Park Service

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