Our attorneys have filed a personal injury lawsuit on behalf of victims of the Tubbs Fire alleging that PG&E’s failure to update aging infrastructure and maintain trees near its powerlines caused the blaze.
Specifically, the lawsuit says, the Tubbs Fire and the other conflagrations it sparked were ignited when energized power lines came in contact with nearby vegetation.
Read a copy of the Tubbs Fire Lawsuit.
Tubbs Fire survivors may have legal claims to compensation from PG&E for property losses, serious injuries, and other damages. Explore your options and your claims with a trusted fire attorney today, free.
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The lawsuit’s allegations reference a 2013 report from an independent consulting group hired to review PG&E’s operations and maintenance expenditures. The report identified several “significant safety issues.”
Among these safety concerns is PG&E’s alleged continued use of small, obsolete conductors in over 60% of its inventory, which are highly susceptible to failure and more sensitive to inclement weather conditions than standard size conductors.
According to the legal complaint, the 2013 report also noted PG&E’s use of reclosers, which are circuit breakers that automatically and remotely reenergize power lines when service interruptions occur. The lawsuit alleges that the use of reclosers increases fire danger when service interruptions occur as a result of a power line coming into contact with trees or other vegetation – so much so, that Southern California utilities reprogramed their electrical systems during fire season to prevent reclosers from automatically restarting electrical currents. PG&E did not take the same precautions in Northern California.
The lawsuit further alleges that between 2006 and 2013, in an effort to redistribute costs, PG&E actually reduced the number of trees it worked to maintain at a regulatory distance from energized conductors, from 1.7 million to 1.25 million.
According to the lawsuit, yet another audit of PG&E’s systems and operations in 2015 revealed that there were over 3,500 unfilled repair and maintenance requests in the area of the Tubbs Fire, and that over 50 pieces of equipment, including pole-mounted transformers and power lines, had not been inspected every year as required by law.
About the Tubbs Fire
The Tubbs Fire raged for weeks in October 2017, burning over 36,000 acres of Napa and Sonoma counties, destroying over 5,200 structures, and claiming 22 lives. It has been deemed the most destructive and deadly wildfire in California history.
The blaze ignited near Tubbs Lane on the east side of Highway 128 in Calistoga shortly before 10 pm on Sunday, October 8, 2017. Within about three hours, the fire had traveled 15 miles south, reaching Santa Rosa’s city limits. Propelled by the Diablo winds, the fire moved quickly through Santa Rosa, jumping Highway 101, destroying large swaths of Fountaingrove, and leveling the Coffey Park neighborhood. Hundreds of thousands of Calistoga and Santa Rosa residents were evacuated, many before they could get dressed or gather any of their possessions.
According to Cal Fire, 80% of the lands burned were privately owned.
The Tubbs fire was fully contained on October 31, 2017.
“I don’t think anyone going to bed that night could have imagined that we’d have this kind of activity and this much destruction. It’s just not the kind of perfect storm that can be anticipated.” – Daniel Berlant, Asst. Deputy Director, Cal Fire
The law firms of Danko Meredith, Girard Gibbs, and Corey, Luzaich, de Ghetaldi & Riddle each has experience representing California businesses and families that have suffered losses in previous fires, and we have successfully litigated against some of the largest and most powerful corporations in the country, including PG&E.
We’ve prevailed in prior litigation against PG&E.
- Following the 2015 Butte fire that destroyed over 70,000 acres, we proved that PG&E was liable for property damage.
- We did the same in the cases arising from the San Bruno Fires, settling all of them in 2013 – just three years after the blaze.
We know more about PG&E’s fire prevention policies and litigation tactics than nearly anyone.
- We know how PG&E’s fire prevention programs are supposed to work, how they fall short in practice, and why.
- We have PG&E’s litigation playbook.
- We know PG&E inside and out and believe that their approach which values profits over consumer safety needs to change. This will keep happening unless we take action.
Our unique experience positions us to represent our clients’ interests better than anyone else.
Corey, Luzaich, de Ghetaldi & Riddle
Attorneys Dario de Ghetaldi and Amanda Riddle of Corey, Luzaich, de Ghetaldi & Riddle were co-liaison counsel for nearly 50 families in litigation against PG&E concerning the September 2010 explosion of a 30-inch natural gas transmission line in San Bruno. They currently represent over 200 families who are victims of the 2015 Butte Fire that devastated over 70,000 acres.
The attorneys of Danko Meredith have earned hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts for their clients; Mike Danko serves as co-lead trial attorney on behalf of victims of the Butte Wildfire, and was recently honored as Trial Lawyer of the Year by San Mateo Trial Lawyers Association.
Girard Gibbs’ attorneys bring more than two decades of experience representing clients in complex cases against utility companies, banks and pharmaceutical manufacturers. The Daily Journal named Girard Gibbs attorney Eric Gibbs to its prestigious list of “Top Plaintiff Lawyers in California” for 2016 and Law360 recognized Eric as a “2016 Consumer Protection MVP,” the only plaintiff-side lawyer in the country selected in that category.