The North Bay Fire Litigation is in the discovery phase. During this phase the parties formally investigate the evidence about what caused the fires, who should be held responsible, and why. Judge Karnow has decided that the first phase of the lawsuits will be devoted to determining PG&E’s liability rather than quantifying the harm plaintiffs have suffered.
Attorneys for homeowners have asked PG&E to produce documents relating to hundreds of categories including vegetation management and corporate practices. To date, PG&E has turned over thousands of pages of materials, and we expect them to continue to do so for months. So far we’ve also deposed (questioned under oath) a number of witnesses, including PG&E employees who may have observed the fires or reviewed physical evidence concerning the fires. We expect this phase of litigation to continue into next summer.
Attorneys for homeowners have also requested Cal Fire to release unredacted copies of its reports, which are under investigation for criminal prosecution.
Judge Karnow has requested more details about the logistics of the first trial against PG&E. Early on, he agreed with the attorneys that trials should begin in August 2019. Given the length of time needed for the discovery phase that timeline may not occur. Some questions he wants answered by attorneys for homeowners and for PG&E:
- Which fire should go first?
- How many plaintiffs should be included? How should they be selected?
- When should the trial begin?
- Where should the trial occur? What county?
We expect a comprehensive discussion about the plans for trial will occur at the next status conference with Judge Karnow.
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.