By Amy Feldman

By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – It’s hot. Whom can I sue?

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A power company in Arizona just agreed to pay more than $3 million to settle a suit brought after the 2011 blackout left millions of people without power in Arizona, California, and Mexico. Boy, you sure don’t appreciate air conditioners – or even fans – until the power goes out. And when it does, you’re boiling temperature-wise and temper-wise.

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So, when there is a power outage, people – and offices that can’t do business – start to wonder: can I sue the power company if there’s a blackout? The answer is, it’s possible, but it’s not easy to win.

The power companies tell customers that they endeavor to provide continuous service but don’t guaranty it. Outages are infrequent but expected. In order to win a case, you have to prove not just that the power went out, but that the power company was negligent or reckless. Which is what happened in Arizona, where it was the Federal government who was investigating not only why the Arizona grid failed but why the company didn’t then notify neighboring power companies to halt the cascading blackout.

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So, unless you have the power of the Federal government or knowledge of negligent conduct, you’re best off buying business interruption insurance and finding a friend who owns a generator.