Lawyers push to litigate fire suits against PG&E in Sonoma County
SANTA ROSA, Calif. (BCN) – The brother of a paraplegic woman who died in the Tubbs fire last month has filed a negligence and unlawful death lawsuit in Sonoma County against PG&E.
Torrey Thomas’ lawsuit and others allege PG&E’s failure to maintain its electrical power lines caused them to fall to the ground and spark the Tubbs fire that killed 23 people in Sonoma County last month.
Thomas’ sister Tamara Thomas, 47, died in a 6-bed residential care home on Crestview Court near the Coffey Park neighborhood of Santa Rosa.
“Tamara Thomas was my sister – my only sister. She died 26 days ago and I still can’t get it out of my head. She knew that she was going to burn alive. And she did. This didn’t have to happen. She didn’t have to die,” Thomas read in a prepared statement.
Thomas was present at a press conference outside Sonoma County Superior Court this morning where some attorneys said the suits against PG&E should be litigated in Sonoma County Superior Court not in Superior Court in PG&E Corp-based San Francisco.
One of the attorneys, former state Assemblywoman and former state Senator Noreen Evans of Santa Rosa said, “The witnesses are here, the damage is here and the victims are here.”
Santa Rosa attorney Roy Miller said filing the suits against PG&E “doesn’t benefit the people of Sonoma County at all.” Miller said he lost everything in the fire.
Miller said dozens of people have contacted him about suing the giant utility company.
“Folks have been trying to wrap their brains around this. They are past the grief and now they are mad,” Miller said.
Guy Watts, a managing partner with Watts Guerra of San Antonio and Austin, Texas, said five or six staff members are leasing a home in Santa Rosa and bought vehicles to litigate the three current lawsuits, including Thomas’, against PG&E.
So far at least 10 lawsuits have been filed in San Francisco and Sonoma County against PG&E. Three Mendocino County families who lost their home also filed a lawsuit against PG&E.
PG&E spokesperson Ari Vanrenen said in a statement, “We are aware that lawsuits have been filed. Beyond that, we’re going to be focused on doing everything we can to help these communities rebuild and recover.”