United States v. CB&I Constructors, Inc., No. 10-55371 (9th Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
Defendant CB&I Constructors, Inc. negligently caused a June 2002 wildfire that burned roughly 18,000 acres of the Angeles National Forest in Southern California. The United States brought a civil action against CB&I to recover damages for harm caused by the fire. The jury found CB&I liable and awarded roughly $7.6 million in fire suppression, emergency mitigation, and resource protection costs, and $28.8 million in intangible environmental damages. CB&I challenged the award for environmental damages. The district court held that the government provided sufficient evidence for the jury to determine the amount of environmental damages, and that the resulting award was not grossly excessive. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) under California law, the government was entitled to full compensation for all the harms caused by the fire, including intangible environment harm; and (2) substantial evidence supported the jury's determination of the amount of environmental damages, and the award was not grossly excessive.