Daughter of Man Killed in Wildfire Sues Utility

PG&E faces potentially catastrophic financial penalties
By NewsDude ,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 21, 2018 7:30 PM CST
Updated Nov 22, 2018 12:50 AM CST
In this Nov. 15 photo, residences leveled by a wildfire line a neighborhood in Paradise, Calif.   (AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)
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(Newser) – Investigators still haven't settled on the cause of the California wildfire that has killed more than 80 people so far, but another lawsuit is pinning the blame squarely on the utility Pacific Gas & Electric. The AP reports that Neva Rodrigues, whose 73-year-old father was killed in the fire, has sued the utility for negligence. At least two other lawsuits have been filed against PG&E by people who lost their homes. The suits hinge on a fact that could prove to be financially catastrophic to the utility: PG&E reported an outage on a transmission line in the same area and around the same time as the fire began.

If investigators prove a link, the liability damages could be huge. An insurance risk consultant has estimated the total financial damage to be somewhere between $7 billion and $10 billion, reports the Sacramento Bee. Given the possibility that PG&E could be forced into bankruptcy, Democratic state lawmaker Chris Holden is preparing legislation that would give the utility stronger financial protections. A fellow Democrat, Jerry Hill, derided that as a "Thanksgiving gift for PG&E shareholders, directors and executives," while victims of the fire spend the holiday in tents, per the San Jose Mercury News. (President Trump's suggestion about raking the forest didn't go over well.)


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