Insurance companies are suing the US government over claims related to the 2016 Gatlinburg fires

Knoxville, Tenn. (WATE) – More than a dozen insurance companies are suing the US government for damages resulting 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 claims made following the November 2016 fires; the lawsuit was filed under the federal tort claims statute “for damages resulting from negligent acts or omissions on the part of employees or agents of the Department of the Interior and/or the Department of national parks in response to the Chimney Tops 2 fire in the Greater Smoky Mountains National Park.

RELATED: Timeline: Wildfires in Gatlinburg

Insurance companies are asking for as much as $200 million, according to a court document.

The claims asserted in the court documents by the insurance companies “arose out of certain acts, omissions, and other negligent conduct on the part of employees of the DOI and/or the NPS, a component of the DOI and authorized agent of the United States, which resulted in, among other things, the substantial material losses suffered by the plaintiffs’ insureds.”

This means that insurance companies are alleging incompetence by government employees during the Gatlinburg wildfires, resulting in the loss of property for their customers (the “insureds”).

This isn’t the first lawsuit stemming from the Gatlinburg fires.

In August, 88 plaintiffs who resided near Great Smoky Mountains National Park sued the US government for damages after the November 2016 fires in Gatlinburg.

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

RELATED: 88 plaintiffs sue US for damages over Gatlinburg fires

The November 2016 wildfires in Gatlinburg killed 14 people and burned more than 1,400 buildings.

WATE 6 On Your Side has contacted the National Park Service for comment.

An NPS spokesperson responded on Friday:

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

Dana Soehn, National Park Service


Kristan F. Talley