As of yet, we are not aware of any payouts by PG&E to victims of the 2018 Camp Fire that ravaged Butte County. PG&E has said, however, that it is setting aside $10 billion to pay for harm related to the Camp Fire. The judge overseeing PG&E’s bankruptcy has approved a $105 million housing fund to help fire victims who lost their homes and were uninsured or have insufficient insurance coverage.
Our Camp Fire lawyers urged the judge to order PG&E to instead pay $250 million into the housing fund. But the judge declined to do so.
$1 Billion PG&E Settlement with 14 Public Entities
As part of the first major settlement since declaring bankruptcy, PG&E agreed to pay $1 billion to 14 public entities for its role in causing the 2015 Butte Fire, 2017 NorCal fires, and 2018 Camp Fire. Paradise and Butte County are set to receive $560 million as part of the Camp Fire settlement, KRCR reports. We are fighting to ensure victims are paid their due, not just the city and county.
Why Haven’t There Been Payouts Yet for Camp Fire Lawsuits?
About 750 Camp Fire lawsuits were filed against PG&E soon after the devastation from the fire. Then, in early 2019, PG&E filed for bankruptcy, saying that it faced approximately $30 billion in liability for the 2017 and 2018 fires. But the PG&E bankruptcy doesn’t necessarily mean that PG&E is out of money. PG&E filed for a “restructuring” bankruptcy, and some commentators have speculated that PG&E is using the bankruptcy strategically. For example, the Insurance Journal reports that PG&E may benefit from having the Campfire lawsuits tried in bankruptcy court because then they’d be tried before a judge, not a jury. PG&E may fear that juries would award substantial amounts against them, but there is less risk with a judge, reports Insurance Journal.
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.
In a submission to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), PG&E stated that it “believes it is probable that the Utility’s equipment will be determined to be an ignition point of the 2018 Camp [F]ire.” As a result, the company is including a $10.5 billion pre-tax charge related to Camp Fire claims, along with a new $1.0 billion charge relating to the 2017 Atlas and Cascade Fires. Altogether, PG&E has reserved a total of $14 billion to pay wildfire claims to those who make a claim in bankruptcy.
Our team of Butte Camp Fire Attorneys have been featured and our lawsuit against PG&E has been chronicled in major national and California news publications:
- Mike Danko in San Francisco Chronicle: “At some point there has to be accountability.”
- Amanda Riddle on ABC10: “They were leading people to a false sense of security.”
- Kristine Meredith on Fox40: “What’s so troubling to us [about the fires] is not only does it not change, it gets worse each time.”
- Dario de Ghetaldi in Mercury News: “PG&E needs to stop blowing up and burning down California.”
✓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.