PG&E Litigation Update

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Update regarding important developments in cases against PG&E for fire losses

  

RE: PG&E Litigation Update

      July 18, 2019

  

Fire Claims

PG&E filed for bankruptcy on January 29, 2019. Because of that filing, claims for damages against PG&E are being litigated in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the North District of California in San Francisco.

The Court recently set October 21, 2019 as the claims “Bar Date.” This means that all claims related to the Camp Fire, Tubbs Fire and Atlas fire must be submitted no later than the Bar Date.

 
There is a special court-approved Proof of Claim form for fire claims. Your attorney can assist you with this form or file the form on your behalf. 

 PG&E’s Liability to You

We keep getting questions about how likely we believe PG&E will be held liable for causing the wildland fires in 2017 and 2018.

 

As for the Camp Fire, PG&E admits its equipment started the fire. They have already agreed to pay various governmental entities such as the Town of Paradise a total of $1 billion as a settlement for their claims. This should give Camp Fire victims comfort that their claims for damage rest on solid ground.

  

Cal Fire 

Tubbs Fire victims know that a Cal Fire investigation concludes that privately-owned equipment started that fire. We need to stress that the Cal Fire investigation does not clear PG&E of legal responsibility, though it does have an impact on what Tubbs Fire claims will ultimately settle for. The Plaintiff Leadership Committee is pressing for a series of jury trials on Tubbs Fire liability to demonstrate PG&E’s responsibility. We expect that Tubbs Fire claims will prove to have real value, though we have no specific predictions at this time.

Finally, Cal Fire links PG&E equipment to the Atlas Fire, so liability appears strong. PG&E has argued that there is evidence an outdoor cooking stove might have contributed to the blaze. However, at this time, it does not appear there is a serious contest on PG&E’s liability for Atlas.

It is important to note that as the fire season opens, we will be watching to see if there are any new wildland fires that PG&E might be held liable for causing. Any such wildfires would have a priority in the claims process over the 2017 and 2018 fires, so we are all keeping our fingers crossed that PG&E manages its system properly so that there are no further catastrophes caused by their equipment.

 
Recent Activity in Sacramento

On July 12, Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill No. 1054 into law. Among other things, the Bill establishes a Wildfire Fund intended to compensate wildland fire victims for electric utility-caused fires.

The Bill is intended to provide investor-owned utilities like PG&E with at least $21 billion to pay for damages linked to their equipment beginning this summer. PG&E will be allowed to participate in the fund provided it exits bankruptcy in 2020 without raising rates to its customers.

 
 

Your Questions

As always, if you have any questions about your particular situation, please feel free to ask. We are here to help.


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California Wildfires Law

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