PG&E has a history of causing fires and burning down homes. In fact, there are a number of cases brought before the California Supreme Court involving claims against PG&E. Irelan-Yuba Gold Quartz mining Co. V. Pacific Gas & Electric Co., 116 P.2d 611 (Cal. 1941); Beresford V. Pacific Gas & Electric Co., 290 P.2d 498 (Cal. 1955). In the 1990 Campbell fire in Tehama County, PG&E burned over 125,892 acres and 27 structures. In 1994, in the Nevada County fires PG&E caused a large fire which lead to PG&E being criminally convicted for failing to trim trees and 34 structures burning. In 2015, PG&E caused the Butte fires and burned 921 structures.

PG&E has been sued by over 100 people, as of early November 2017, who contend PG&E burned their homes and businesses. The California Public Utility Commission has also directed PG&E to preserve trees, conductors, and other equipment and evidence which suggests the origin of the fires. The 911 calls indicated PG&E powerlines were downed in the area of fires.

* This information is provided to supply relevant information concerning the PG&E lawsuits, and should not be received as legal advice.  If you are already represented by legal counsel please rely upon them for information and advice. No guarantees or representations about the success of the PG&E lawsuits can be drawn from this information.

In 1994, PG&E was found guilty of 739 counts of negligence and fined nearly $30 million by state regulators when trees touched its high-voltage wires in Nevada County in the Sierra foothills, sparking a fire near the town of Rough and Ready that destroyed 12 homes and a 19th century schoolhouse. Afterward, prosecutors found that PG&E had diverted nearly $80 million from its tree-cutting programs into profits.

In April of this year, the CPUC fined PG&E for its role in the Butte Fire in 2015, which destroyed 549 homes and killed two people in a fire that burned for 22 days, charring 70,868 acres of land. PG&E ended up paying an $8.3 million fine to the California Public Utilities Commission and $90 million to Cal Fire to cover firefighting costs. More than 1,000 lawsuits and claims are still pending against the utility.

PG&E was also fined previously for it’s failure to properly maintain its natural gas lines, leading to the 2010 San Bruno explosion. Eight people died in the explosion, which destroyed 38 homes. The company was fined $1.6 billion by the CPUC, and a federal jury convicted the company on five charges of violating federal pipeline safety regulations and one charge of obstructing an official National Transportation Safety Board probe into the blast.

* This information is provided to supply relevant information concerning the PG&E lawsuits, and should not be received as legal advice. If you are already represented by legal counsel please rely upon them for information and advice. No guarantees or representations about the success of the PG&E lawsuits can be draw from this information.

The CPUC regulates electric, natural gas, telecommunications, water, railroad, rail transit, and passenger transportation companies. The CPUC serves the public interest by protecting consumers and ensuring the provision of safe, reliable utility service and infrastructure at just and reasonable rates, with a commitment to environmental enhancement and a healthy California economy. Find out more about them HERE.
The CPUC has directed PG&E to preserve evidence concerning the cause of the California fires. The PUC also has many regulations which require PG&E to trim trees, maintain the right of ways, maintain its equipment, and to protect the public. The PUC also notified PG&E about fire danger created by the California drought conditions.

* This information is provided to supply relevant information concerning the PG&E lawsuits, and should not be received as legal advice. If you are already represented by legal counsel please rely upon them for information and advice. No guarantees or representations about the success of the PG&E lawsuits can be draw from this information.

No, they are not. A class action has a single person or a couple of people who bring claims on behalf of a large group with similar issues. Class actions are not appropriate for large fire loss cases as the losses are individual to each person and one class representative’s damages would tell you nothing about another person’s losses as everyone has unique losses. Some people lost personal property, some lost a home, some lost a rental property, some lost a business, some lost a job, and some businesses were not hit by the fire but they lost revenues due to disruptions or loss of customers.
Thus rather than a class action, the claims against PG&E will be individual claims brought by those affected by the fires. Large groups of similar, individual claims are sometimes called mass actions or mass tort claims. If you decide to engage our firm to file a claim for your losses against PG&E, then an individual claim will be filed for you.

* This information is provided to supply relevant information concerning the PG&E lawsuits, and should not be received as legal advice. If you are already represented by legal counsel please rely upon them for information and advice. No guarantees or representations about the success of the PG&E lawsuits can be draw from this information.

PAUL PAYNE
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT | November 4, 2017, 3:35PM

With nearly the intensity of a fast-burning wildfire, lawyers from across the country have swept into Santa Rosa in search of clients who suffered losses in the recent blazes and want to sue PG&E, seeking billions of dollars in potential damages.

Seemingly overnight, out-of-town firms have moved in and set up shop, soliciting business through newspaper and billboard ads, informational meetings at hotel ballrooms and social media.

The rush is happening as many local lawyers who lost their own homes are still digging out from the rubble or awaiting the results of official investigations to determine the cause of the fires.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Patrick Emery, a partner in the Santa Rosa firm of Abbey, Weitzenberg, Warren & Emery, where several members lost their homes. “This community has never had a disaster of this scale so we haven’t experienced it here.”

Read More

PAUL PAYNE
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT | November 3, 2017, 6:01PM

A tug-of-war is brewing over whether Sonoma County or San Francisco courts should handle the thousands of wildfire lawsuits expected to emerge against PG&E.

Lawyers representing one group of plaintiffs argue San Francisco is a better venue because the court is larger and has the administrative capacity for more complex cases. They have petitioned the California Judicial Council to appoint one San Francisco judge to oversee all pretrial matters including depositions, hearings and evidence disputes.But other lawyers seeking damages against PG&E say the cases belong in Sonoma County where the fires charred about 100,000 acres, destroyed 4,000 homes and killed 23 people. They are seeking to block a move across the Golden Gate to PG&E’s headquarters city with their own Judicial Council motion.

“Why would I want to fight the case in PG&E’s backyard?” Santa Rosa attorney Roy Miller said in a press conference Friday outside the Sonoma County courthouse. “It’s insane to go to San Francisco.”

Read More

Pacific Gas and Electric Company, is the largest utility in California and was incorporated in California in 1905. It is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric energy companies in the United States. Based in San Francisco, the company is a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation, which is a publically traded company. The public share price of PG&E crashed on news that its powerlines and equipment could be to blame for the devastating wildfires in Northern California.

PG&E has 20,000 employees who carry out Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s business of the transmission of gas and electricity. PG&E provides natural gas and electric service to approximately 16 million people throughout a 70,000-square-mile service area in northern and central California. As a utility, even though it has private shareholders, PG&E is regulated by the Public Utility Commission.
Find out more about them HERE.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has notified PG&E to keep and records and equipment which could provide evidence relating to the cause of the fires. The CPUC has also made a lot of information about PG&E public.

* This information is provided to supply relevant information concerning the PG&E lawsuits, and should not be received as legal advice. If you are already represented by legal counsel please rely upon them for information and advice. No guarantees or representations about the success of the PG&E lawsuits can be drawn from this information.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is the state’s regulatory agency responsible for policing privately owned public utility companies. Because reports of fires occurred simultaneously with reports of electrical issues, the CPUC is investigating whether PG&E is to blame.

The CPUC is specifically looking into whether inadequate maintenance of PG&E’s power infrastructure started the deadly fires. PG&E has been ordered by the CPUC to preserve all electrical equipment related to the string of fires and provide internal communications regarding the electrical issues and fires since Sunday, October 8th. The president of the CPUC has stated the agency will focus on PG&E’s maintenance history.

“PG&E must inform all employees and contractors that they must preserve all electronic (including emails) and non-electronic documents related to potential causes of the fires, vegetation, maintenance and/or tree-trimming,” Elizaveta Malashenko, director of the CPUC’s safety and enforcement division, sent a letter to PG&E ordering it to “preserve all evidence” regarding the fires.

Information from the California Public Utilities Commission:

October 2017 Wildfires

Beginning on October 8, 2017, several major wildfires spread through Napa, Sonoma, Butte, Humboldt, Mendocino, and Del Norte Counties, as well as in the areas surrounding Grass Valley and Yuba City.

CAL FIRE is the first responder and determines the sources of ignition of the fires and the way that the fires spread. The CPUC is working closely with CAL FIRE in this investigation and will continue to do so.  Further, our Safety and Enforcement Division is conducting investigations to assess the compliance of electric and communication facilities with applicable rules and regulations in fire-impacted areas. Investigation topics include, but are not limited to, maintenance of facilities, vegetation management, and emergency preparedness and response.

On this webpage, you will find CPUC information related to the fires.

●      Nov. 8, 2017: Proposal Issued on New Fire-Safety Regulations

●      Nov. 6, 2017: PG&E Letter to CPUC

●      PG&E Fire Incident Reports

●      Oct. 9-26, 2017: Status updates from PG&E to the CPUC

●      Oct. 26, 2017: Update on the Status of Fire-Related Activities from CPUC Voting Meeting

●      Oct. 25, 2017: CPUC Updated Order to PG&E and Communication Companies to Preserve Evidence

●      Oct. 30, 2017: CPUC Order Update

●      Oct. 25, 2017: TURN Letter to CPUC

●     Oct. 25, 2017: CPUC Reply to TURN

●       CPUC letter to PG&E reminding of the obligation to preserve evidence 

●     PG&E Response 

CPUC letter to communication companies reminding of the obligation to preserve evidence

●       Memorandum of Understanding between the CPUC and CAL FIRE that deals with how the agencies coordinate on response to fires and investigations

●       Memorandum of Understanding between the CPUC and Cal OES that deals with coordinating emergency planning, response recovery and mitigation functions between agencies.

●       Electric and Fire Related Fines.

●       Spending on Vegetation Management approved in recent PG&E General Rate Cases (see page 1)

●       Direction to PG&E to Take Increased Efforts to Reduce Fire Risk due to Drought Emergency (see page 2)

 

Regulations and Information

●       Fire-Threat Maps and Fire-Safety Regulations Proceedings

●       General Order 95 contains rules for the design, construction, maintenance, inspection, repair, and replacement of overhead utility facilities, including electric utility facilities, communication facilities, and cable television facilities. General Order 95, Rule 37, Table 1 addresses the above ground clearances of conductors, and the clearances between conductors and other structures/vegetation.

●       Public Utilities Code 316 and General Order 95, Rule 19 govern the preservation of evidence for investigation in accordance with Public Utilities Code.

●       Order Instituting Rulemaking to Consider Specified Amendments to Rule 18 of General Order 95 (R.16-02-001)

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