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.
Did PG&E Cause the ’17 California Wildfires?
In 2018, CAL FIRE, a government agency, investigated and issued official reports concluding that PG&E caused at least 12 of the 2017 North Bay fires. On June 8, 2018, CAL FIRE stated
After extensive and thorough investigations, CAL FIRE investigators have determined that 12 Northern California wildfires in the October 2017 Fire Siege were caused by electric power and distribution lines, conductors and the failure of power poles.
Specifically, the PG&E wildfire lawsuit allege that by failing to properly inspect and maintain its infrastructure and clear vegetation from its power lines, PG&E has violated the law and is legal responsibility for the substantial damages caused by the fires.
Why Over Clients Chose Us: Experience Matters
- We filed our first lawsuit against PG&E nearly 30 years ago, and in these types of fire cases, no firm has more experience suing PG&E.
- We have won settlements against PG&E for hundreds of fire victims since 2010.
- We are more than 30 lawyers strong and we have the manpower, knowledge, and financial resources to take PG&E all the way through trial if necessary
It’s Important to Speak to a Lawyer Now
The steps and actions you take in the aftermath of the fire can affect your rights and ability to file claims against PG&E going forward. An attorney can guide you and help preserve your rights even if you are not ready to join the wildfire lawsuit at this time.
You Don’t Pay Anything Unless We Win
If we don’t win, you owe us nothing. We will not charge you legal fees or for any the costs of litigating your case unless you win a recovery from PG&E.
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.
We are an experienced Bay Area legal team that represents homeowners, renters and businesses affected by the 2017 Tubbs fires, Atlas fires, Nuns fires, Sulphur fires, Redwood Valley fires, and LaPorte fires. Our attorneys have been appointed by California judges to serve in leadership roles in several large, coordinated fire and disaster cases, including in the 2017 PG&E Fire Cases, San Bruno Explosion and Butte Fire cases. Collectively we have more experience taking on PG&E than any other law firm in California.
Our team of lawyers has been widely-recognized for the quality of our work and achievements:
- Trial Lawyer of the Year, San Mateo Trial Lawyers Association (Mike Danko)
- Top Plaintiff Lawyers in California, Daily Journal (Eric Gibbs)
- Trial Lawyer of the Year, Finalist, Consumer Attorneys of California (Mike Danko)
- Woman Advocate of the Year, Finalist, Consumer Attorneys of California (Amanda Riddle)
- Consumer Protection MVP, Law360 (Eric Gibbs)
- Top 50 Women Lawyers in Northern California (Kristine Meredith)
- Consumer Attorney of the Year, Finalist, Consumer Attorneys of California (Eric Gibbs)
- Top 100 Super Lawyers in Northern California (Mike Danko, Kristine Meredith, Eric Gibbs)
“The 2017 CAL FIRE Wildfire report has determined that 17 Northern California wildfires in the October 2017 Fire Siege were caused by electric power and distribution lines, conductors and the failure of power poles.”
So far, Cal Fire has determined that 17 of the Northern California wildfires in October 2017 were caused by PG&E equipment, including electric power and distribution lines, conductors and the failure of power poles.
In fact, Cal Fire has referred the matter to law enforcement for possible criminal prosecution of PG&E. Our own experts’ work and findings to date have paralleled Cal Fire’s. Unlike Cal Fire’s opinions, however, our experts’ opinions are admissible and can be used as evidence in the lawsuits brought against P&GE on behalf of homeowners.
The Cal Fire report cannot be used as evidence in trial against PG&E. Rather, lawyers for homeowners must present their own experts at trial to testify about any particular fire’s cause and origin.
When the evidence shows that a fire is caused by PG&E’s equipment, under the legal principle of inverse condemnation, P&GE will be required to pay for not just the property damage caused by the fire, but also the property owners’ attorneys’ fees.
|“fire caused by tree parts or trees falling onto PG&E power lines”
|“fire caused by the failure of a PG&E-owned power pole, resulting in power lines and equipment coming in contact with the ground”
|“fire caused by “tree limbs coming into contact with PG&E power lines”
|“fire cause of the fire was electrical and was associated with the PG&E distribution lines in the area”
|“fire caused when “a PG&E power line conductor separated from a connector, causing the conductor to fall to the ground”
|“fire caused by a tree falling and coming in contact with PG&E power lines”
|“fire caused by a eucalyptus tree falling into a PG&E powerline”
|“fire caused by an oak tree falling into PG&E powerlines”
|“fire caused by a downed powerline after PG&E attempted to reenergize the line”
|“fire caused by a broken top of a tree coming in contact with a power line”
|“fire caused by the top of an oak tree breaking and coming into contact with PG&E power lines”
|“At one location, it was determined a large limb broke from a tree and came into contact with a PG&E power line. At the second location, investigators determined a tree fell into the same line”
|“Power line sag on two conductors caused the lines to come into contact, which created an electrical arc. The electrical arc deposited hot burning or molten material on the ground in a receptive fuel bed causing the fire.”
|“a tree falling onto PG&E power lines”
|“a tree contacting PG&E power lines”
|“an Oak branch contacting PG&E power lines”
|La Porte Fire
|“tree branches falling onto PG&E power lines”
✓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.
Our team of Wildfire 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.”
On February 26, 2018, Sonoma County and others, filed a lawsuit against PG&E for damages relating to the Tubbs Fire, Nuns Fire, and Pocket Fire. According to Sonoma County’s lawsuit, “the Wine Country Fires started when electrical infrastructure owned, operated and maintained by PG&E . . . came into contact with vegetation that PG&E was obligated to have inspected and maintained but failed to do so in a manner that would have prevented or mitigated the effects of such contact.”
Regarding the firestorm, Sonoma County Counsel Bruce Goldstein stated: “ [w]e believe based on an investigation attorneys put together that PG&E was a significant cause of it.”
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.
San Mateo Trial Lawyers Association
Eric Gibbs (sole plaintiffs’ lawyer recognized nationwide)
Finalist, Consumer Attorneys of California
Finalist, Consumer Attorneys of California
Finalist, Consumer Attorneys of California
Martindale-Hubbell – highest class of attorneys for professional ethics and legal skills