California Personal Injury Law Case Notes

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CNBC asked me and Governor Newsom about PG&E’s future. PG&E hopes to exit bankruptcy by June 30.  It’s plan calls for $13.5 billion to be set aside for its victims to make claims against.  The trouble is, if PG&E can’t get its planned approved by June 30, it will lose access to a $21 billion fund that will help protect its financial condition in the event of future wildfires.  If it can’t get access to the fund, its lenders and others who are providing support for the plan will back out of the deal. The Governor dislikes PG&E’s plan and…
What does the settlement mean? The settlement is an agreed-upon plan for ending the bankruptcy. If the settlement is approved, PG&E will fund a trust for Wildfire victims and certain public entities, for $13.5 Billion.  All victims’ claims against PG&E will be converted to a claim against the trust fund.  PG&E will be allowed to exit bankruptcy and move forward with its business with no further liability to victims.  Each victim’s claim will satisfied solely through the trust that PG&E funded. How much will each claimant get from the trust fund? The settlement does not resolve any individual claim.  The…
I told the New York Times that PG&E filed bankruptcy not because it needed to but because it wanted to “use the bankruptcy rules to their benefit to limit their liability to victims.” And they have it as front page news today. But it was back in January I told KRON4 the same thing. I explained that PG&E filed bankruptcy for one reason only — because it figured it could use the bankruptcy laws to hold on to more of its corporate profits at the expense of its victims. They are doing this now because they have spent millions to…
Opinion Rejects Common Caltrans Defense Strategy Chris Chandler was killed as he crossed busy El Camino Real in a marked crosswalk. We argued at trial that Caltrans should have known that the crosswalk was dangerous because of an accident that occurred in a similar crosswalk 20 miles away. The jury agreed, and awarded the family $9.5 million. Caltrans appealed arguing that the jury should never have been allowed to hear about the accident at the intersection 20 miles from where Chandler was killed because, the Caltrans argued, it was an entirely different intersection. Caltrans argued that, because there had…
What’s today’s “motion for relief from stay” all about? The dispute about PG&E’s total liabilities. When it filed bankruptcy, PG&E said its liabilities as a result of the 2017 and 2018 wildfires totaled at least $30 billion. Yet, PG&E now proposes to resolve all wildfire claims by funding a trust for wildfire claimants of substantially less — about $14 billion. What explains the difference? Well, after the bankruptcy, Cal Fire determined that PG&E’s facilities did not cause the Tubbs fire – the most costly of the 2017 fires. Rather, according to Cal Fire, the Tubbs fire started at wires on…
PG&E now accepts responsibility for the Camp Fire. PG&E says that it wants to pay claimants for what they’ve been through, and that it wants to set aside $14 billion for that purpose. But here’s the catch: in order to be paid, victims must file papers with the bankruptcy court by October 21. If you don’t get a claim on file by October 21, you can’t participate in the payout. Period. The judge realized that many Camp Fire victims are traumatized and won’t be able to hire a lawyer in time. But he felt it important to set an early…