PG&E Gives Glimpse Of Upcoming Lawsuit Defense
March 17, 2018
In a series of eight separate filings submitted to the San Francisco Superior Court on March 16, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) offered its most detailed legal responses to date over allegations of its role in the catastrophic North Bay Fires of October 2017. Citing the potential for the court’s ruling in this case to set a precedent threatening the economic health of all private utility companies—not just PG&E—the company urged the court’s restraint.
Whereas victims of the North Bay Fires have sued PG&E alleging that the company was responsible—at least in part—for causing the devastating blazes, PG&E responded that the fires were brought on by a rare but dangerous combination of heavy rains—promoting lush vegetation growth—followed by severe drought, which resulted an abundance of fuel that lay vulnerable to the conjunction of heat and high winds that struck the area on October 8 and 9, 2017.
PG&E further contented that it should not be forced to bear the economic burden of the fire’s damage because it does not have the ability to unilaterally raise rates in order to offset the billions of dollars in damages for which the company potentially is on the hook.
The reaction to this line of argument by the utility company was swift and harsh, with many accusing PG&E of a massive display of tone-deafness.
As one plaintiffs’ attorney told The Press Democrat, “PG&E wants to increase your utility bill to pay for burning your house down.”
Among other things, plaintiffs allege that PG&E is responsible for failing to ensure power poles and lines could withstand high winds; failing to provide proper maintenance to power lines and other equipment; and failing to trim trees and other vegetation to keep them a safe distance from powerlines.
Have you suffered property damage, personal injury, or loss of a loved one due to the tragic North Bay Fires of October 2017? If so, TheLawFirm.com has a team of experienced attorneys ready to defend your rights and help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation!
The Press Democrat
February 5, 2018
On January 29, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to move forward with a lawsuit against Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) over the historic wildfires that ravaged northern California in October 2017, becoming the first government entity to do so. Additional municipalities are expected to join Sonoma County in its case, among them Lake County, Mendocino County, and Napa County, all of which suffered considerable damage as a result of the fires.
While state investigations into the origins of the devastating fires are ongoing, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors issued its decision following an investigation conducted by private attorneys hired by the county.
PG&E already has reported multiple damaged and/or downed power lines and poles in the vicinity of where the fires are suspected to have started, leading to widespread speculation that these power lines might have played a role in igniting the flames.
“We believe based on an investigation attorneys put together that PG&E was a significant cause of [the October fire in Sonoma County],” said Sonoma County Counsel Bruce Goldstein.
The suit will seek compensation for costs incurred by the county as a result of the fire, which burned more than 137 square miles in Sonoma County alone, resulting in 24 deaths and 5,130 lost homes. The additional expenses involve clean-up and debris-removal costs—including overtime pay for county workers—as well as recovery funds for the county parks destroyed in the blaze.
While the state and federal government in conjunction with private insurance companies have covered some of the costs, the county estimates that it still has shouldered an additional financial burden of up to $25 million due to the disaster. As a result, the county is facing an expected $21 million-dollar budget shortfall, exacerbated by a $10.7 million loss in property tax revenue from structures destroyed in the fire.
If you had property destroyed or suffered the loss of a loved one in the horrific northern California fires of October 2017, contact the expert attorneys at TheLawFirm.com now for a free legal consultation.
February 5, 2018
A San Francisco Superior Court judge has ordered the consolidation of pretrial proceedings for over 50 lawsuits related to the devastating north bay fires last fall. In consolidating the suits, all of which seek to hold Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) accountable for its alleged role in causing the fires, the Court ruled against PG&E, which had sought to proceed on a case-by-case basis.
In reaching his decision, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Curtis Karnow cited the similarity of the claims and the large amount of evidence common to all the cases as supporting consolidation in a single court, while arguing that the complexity of the litigation made the San Francisco Superior Court the most suitable venue, with its electronic filing capabilities and its department devoted specifically to complex litigation. Karnow further clarified that, once the pretrial proceedings are complete, plaintiffs will be free to bring suit in their home counties, should they so desire.
While Judge Karnow stated the total number of lawsuits presently as 56, southern California attorney John Fiske claims that his firm represents hundreds of additional plaintiffs that will soon be bringing suit, and he predicts that ultimately the number of individuals suing PG&E over the Wine Country fires will number in the thousands.
A growing body of evidence suggests that PG&E may be at least partially responsible for the devastating 2017 north bay fires. Stay tuned to TheLawFirm.com for the latest news on north bay fire litigation. And if you have suffered injury, loss of a loved one, or property damage as a result of the north bay fires, contact the expert attorneys at TheLawFirm.com now for a free consultation. .