PG&E must face in a state court — and potentially in front of a jury — victims of a lethal inferno that scorched portions of Sonoma County and Napa County in October 2017, a judge ruled on Friday as part of the disgraced utility’s bankruptcy case.
Judge Dennis Montali, who is supervising PG&E’s $51.69 billion federal bankruptcy filing, ruled that a state court is the correct venue to determine PG&E’s potentially huge liability in connection with a deadly blaze known as the Tubbs Fire.
PG&E had sought to coax Judge Montali into making an official determination, as part of the bankruptcy proceeding, regarding what PG&E’s potential liability should be in connection with the Tubbs wildfire.
The decision to move the Tubbs liability proceeding out of the bankruptcy court and into the venue of a full-blown trial meets, in Judge Montali’s view, a key goal of all the parties involved in the bankruptcy proceeding.
“A just resolution of the claims of victims of the wildfires that have ravaged Northern California in recent years” is how Judge Montali described those crucial goals in his court ruling Friday.
A jury trial on the Tubbs fire liability, accompanied by a legal review of the causes of the inferno and any possible liability for PG&E, is the appropriate way to proceed, the bankruptcy judge determined.
In January, state fire investigators announced the Tubbs Fire was caused by a malfunction of private equipment at a residence in the Napa County town of Calistoga. The fire eventually engulfed part of Sonoma County, roared through Santa Rosa and killed 22 people.
However, attorneys for Tubbs Fire victims believe they can present evidence that shows the power was out at the residence prior to the start of the blaze at that location, which they hope to show a jury, depending on the bankruptcy court’s decision. That …read more
Source:: The Mercury News – Business