NEWPORT BEACH, Calif., June 18, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- An Orange County restaurant owner who suffered severe burns when an underground transformer exploded during an Oktoberfest celebration is suing Southern California Edison for its role in the explosion.
Bernie Bischof, owner of Old World German Restaurant in Huntington Beach, filed a civil lawsuit on Tuesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court claiming the electric utility company was negligent in transformer maintenence, leading to a "death trap" that nearly killed him and injured his family members when a fireball erupted on the patio of his restaurant on October 5, 2019, in the middle of a crowded celebration.
Engulfed in flames, Bischof suffered second and third-degree burns on nearly half of his body. He required many skin graft procedures to repair much of the damaged tissue that extended from his head to the bottom of his legs. He suffered third-degree burns to his arms, hands, legs, trunk, and back—meaning all layers of his skin were destroyed.
"My recovery has been very slow and painful and I don't expect my life will ever return to normal," said Bernie Bischof. "This explosion was a ticking timebomb that didn't have to happen."
The 60-year-old was hailed a hero for clearing the patio of patrons shortly before the explosion ripped through the restaurant. Four of his family members also sustained injuries while watching in horror as Bernie caught fire and burned: Markus Bischof (Bernie's son), Josef Bischof (Bernie's father), Cyndie Kasko (Bernie's sister), and Jason Kasko (Bernie's brother–in–law).
"SoCal Edison knew its equipment was failing as far back as 2010 but ignored the dangers," said Bischof's lead attorney Greg Bentley. "This transformer explosion was completely preventable and was the result of a companywide policy of putting corporate profits and its own bottom line over public safety," added Bentley.
According to the complaint, SoCal Edison refused to conduct even basic maintenance on the transformer bank or pursue its 2010 public safety initiative to address the dangers of underground equipment at the restaurant. Bischof claims the company ignored both his warnings after pleading with SoCal Edison in 2015 to move the transformer "before someone gets blown up in the event of another problem with the transformer," as well as the warnings of SoCal Edison's employee describing it as a "death trap" in 2018.
The plaintiff's legal team includes Gregory L. Bentley, Keith P. More, and Clare H. Lucich with the Newport Beach firm Bentley & More LLP on behalf of Bernie Bischof and Kevin Boyle and Matthew Stumpf with Panish Shea & Boyle LLP on behalf of the Bischof family members.
Link to the complaint: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ia6mv70Y5_tEdGvLMUs1f-ZiFXD8P2pp/view
About Bentley & More LLP
Bentley & More LLP specializes in working closely with clients to deeply understand their lives and tell their individual stories. The firm's success comes from tailoring each solution to a client's particular needs. That success is measured in far more than awards, verdicts, and peer recognition, it is measured in the real differences made in our clients' quality of life. Bentley & More focuses on the representation of consumers in the fields of catastrophic personal injury, product liability, insurance bad faith, and worker's compensation, with particular expertise in matters that cross over multiple fields.
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