On January 29, 2019, PG&E filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which calls for “reorganization” of a company when its debts exceed its assets. PG&E’s bankruptcy filing did not end the lawsuits filed on behalf fire victims. It only made us fight harder.
The PG&E bankruptcy continues to move forward. If the bankruptcy judge confirms PG&E’s Plan for Reorganization, PG&E will exit bankruptcy by June 30, 2020, as required by the Governor and legislature. The Plan then calls for the Fire Victims Fund to be set up and funded in the amount of $13.5 billion, half stock, half cash.
Once the fund is established, Our team will then make claims against the Trust on behalf of our Fire Victim clients, maximizing their claims for damages that were not covered by our clients’ insurance. Payments from the Trust will be based on a process still being developed, but that will include a requirement for information and documents that support the Fire Victims’ claim, whether that be for real property damage, personal property damage, business loss, medical expenses, emotional distress or wrongful death, or other losses.
In the meantime and to prepare those claim submissions, we continue to hold individual client meetings and gather documents and information regarding clients’ losses.
For more information see court-approved PG&E bankruptcy related documents.
Recover Your Losses
While the bankruptcy process is unfolding, it is critical that anyone affected by the 2018 Camp Fire and 2017 North Bay Fires should speak to a lawyer now to understand their legal rights. Our team already represents more than 2300 Camp Fire victims and will continue to do so. For a free legal evaluation with a trusted Wildfire Attorney, call 530-208-3062 or fill out the form. Hablamos Español.
Our Team is Experienced with Defendants in Bankruptcy
The need for PG&E’s bankruptcy filing stems from years of reckless conduct by PG&E that resulted in the Butte Fire, the 2017 North Bay Fires and the 2018 Camp Fire. Our team has litigated against many defendants in bankruptcy court, which can be a complex process. We have the knowledge and expertise to navigate lawsuits in bankruptcy court on our clients’ behalf, and we know that PGE has money. Bankruptcy or not, we will hold PG&E accountable for its actions, and guide our fire victim clients through the process.
Many people affected by the fires have the right to file claims, and may not know it. Failure to file your claim could leave more money for PG&E and its investors. Here are some common misconceptions about who is eligible for recovery:
It is NOT true that you can only file a claim if you owned a home that was destroyed by the fire.
You can file a claim for a number of different reasons, including loss of a rental home, loss of personal property, and adverse health effects caused by the fire.
It is NOT true that you can only file a claim if you had an insurance policy.
This is a court claim against PG&E, and is not dependent on your insurance policy. You can file a claim even if your insurance has already covered some of your losses.
It is NOT true that you must have documents to prove every item you lost in the fire.
You may be eligible to file regardless of if you have relevant documentation. In fact, the simple act of having to flee the fire may enable your claim.
It is NOT true that you can only file a claim if you lost a loved one or experienced personal injury.
Other reasons for filing a claim may include damage to your home or loss of personal property as a result of the fire.
“It is a bad day for fire victims, they are being victimized twice, the first time when PG&E burnt their homes down and now because instead of investing in their recovery, they are investing in themselves. I think they are doing this now because they have spent millions to determine what is the best scenario for the share holders and they have found the best way for holding on to the most money and keeping it out of the hands of victims is bankruptcy.”
Q: Is PG&E at risk of going out of business?
Q: Is PG&E broke?
A: No. PG&E says that its book value is $62 billion. PG&E estimates its “enterprise value” could be even higher.
Of course, that amount is not cash in the bank to pay claims to wildfire victims.
Q: Will PG&E get bailed out by the legislature?
A: Right now, it’s unclear that PG&E needs any bailout from anyone to pay its debts in full.
Q: If PG&E has money, then why is PG&E filing for bankruptcy?
A: The answer is not entirely clear. One of PG&E’s largest shareholders claims that PG&E is solvent and able to pay wildfire victims in full without going through the bankruptcy process, and that the bankruptcy is an unnecessary waste of everyone’s time and money. Other analysts suggest that PG&E is trying to use the bankruptcy laws to reduce interest charges it must pay to certain of its lenders over the course of then next few years. Regardless, it’s safe to say that PG&E thinks reorganizing in bankruptcy will in the long run be best for PG&E shareholders.
Q: By filing bankruptcy, does PG&E admits that it owes fire victims?
A: PG&E does not admit liability for any of the fires. Victims must still prove their case against PG&E in a court of law.
Q: Do the lawsuits that victims have already filed against PG&E get stopped?
A: The cases are temporarily halted while PG&E gets breathing room. But PG&E’s bankruptcy filing will not deprive fire victims of their right to trial against PG&E. It will, however, present the trial attorneys with additional challenges.
Q: Can PG&E avoid paying victims by filing bankruptcy?
A: No. PG&E can, however, require victims’ attorneys to jump through many more legal hoops than they would otherwise have to.
Q: Will victims receive less from their lawsuits than if there had been no bankruptcy?
A: The answer is unclear. We will know more once we see all of PG&E’s financial information.
Q: Will it take victims longer to get paid because of the bankruptcy?
A: Most likely, due to the additional legal process victims’ lawyers must navigate.
Q: How long will the bankruptcy last?
A: PG&E is planning on two years.
Q: Do I need to do anything right away to preserve my claim?
A: You need do nothing immediately. However, the bankruptcy judge may require that victims start their claims sooner than the statute of limitations would otherwise allow. If you want to make a claim against PG&E, you should contact a lawyer soon.
Q: Do I need an attorney to make a claim against PG&E?
A: Just as you could represent yourself if there was no bankruptcy, you can represent yourself in bankruptcy. But it is not a good idea.
Q: I was told that the law of “inverse condemnation” requires PG&E to pay certain portions of my attorneys’ fees and costs. What about now that there is a bankruptcy?
A: It’s still the case that PG&E must add the victim’s attorneys’ fees and costs to any inverse condemnation settlement.
Q: Where will the bankruptcy be?
A: San Francisco.
Q: Do I need separate lawyers for the bankruptcy and for the lawsuit?
A: No. NorCal Fire Lawyers can represent you for both the lawsuit and the bankruptcy proceeding, under the same retainer agreement and without any additional charge for the work in bankruptcy court.
One of PG&E’s shareholders, BlueMountain Capital Management, challenges PG&E’s decision to file for bankruptcy in a letter written to PG&E. The shareholder challenges PG&E’s decision to file for bankruptcy & deems it unnecessary.
“As a PG&E shareholder, we write to challenge the Board’s plan for a damaging, avoidable, and unnecessary bankruptcy. There is overwhelming evidence that PG&E is solvent. We simply cannot recall a situation where such a valuable company filed for bankruptcy with such blatant questions about the necessity of doing so.”
BlueMountain Capital Management LLC
California Governor Gavin Newsom pledges he will work on ensuring PG&E’s bankruptcy will not lead to unfair treatment of the recent California wildfires. You can read Governor Newsom’s statement here:
“While PG&E announced its intent to file bankruptcy today, the company should continue to honor promises made to energy suppliers and to our community. Throughout the months ahead, I will be working with the Legislature and all stakeholders on a solution that ensures consumers have access to safe, affordable and reliable service, fire victims are treated fairly, and California can continue to make progress toward our climate goals.”
Governor Gavin Newsom
✓No Other Firm Has More Experience Suing PG&E.
Our first case against PG&E was nearly 30 years ago. We know PG&E’s playbook and we use that unique knowledge to benefit our clients.
✓We have succeeded in trial against PG&E.
Our lead trial lawyer, Mike Danko, is the only lawyer in Northern California to have taken a case of this type all the way through to trial and verdict against PG&E. Since then, PG&E has offered settlements to our clients in many cases during or just before the start of trial. PG&E knows we are ready, willing and able to take a case to trial, and that approach helps us achieve the best results for our clients.
✓Appointed by judges to lead legal battles against PG&E.
We have been appointed by judges to leadership positions in large-scale cases against PG&E, including the 2017 North Bay Fires cases, the 2015 Butte Fire cases, and the 2010 San Bruno Explosion cases. Judges trust us to represent the best interests of fire & disaster victims.
Northern California Fire Lawyers is a coalition of prominent Northern California law firms: Corey, Luzaich, de Ghetaldi & Riddle, Danko Meredith, and Gibbs Law Group. Our firms consist of seasoned trial lawyers, leading national personal injury attorneys, and experienced complex litigators. Attorneys on our team have been appointed by California judges to serve in leadership positions in a number of large, coordinated fire and disaster cases. We bring a deep knowledge of the systems and fire-prevention policies of major utility companies and are well-positioned to leverage the hard work from our previous cases to benefit our clients.