Law­suits pile up against PG&E

Brock­ovich vis­its vic­tims; Over 400 claims have been filed against util­i­ties

The Mercury News - - Local News - By Thomas Peele [email protected]­yare­anews­group.com

CHICO » Law­suits al­leg­ing Pa­cific Gas and Elec­tric is to blame for the de­struc­tive Camp Fire are pil­ing up in Butte County Su­pe­rior Court, but they may even­tu­ally be con­sol­i­dated and heard in Sacra­mento or San Fran­cisco.

Mo­tions to move the cases to larger courts have been sent to the Cal­i­for­nia Ju­di­cial Coun­cil, said Kim­berly Flener, the chief court ad­min­is­tra­tor for Butte County. The coun­cil’s chair, state Supreme Court Chief Jus­tice Tani Gorre Can­til-Sakauye will even­tu­ally as­sign them to a trial judge who will rule on the re­quests. It is un­clear when, or where, that will oc­cur.

At least 15 suits against the util­ity have been filed in Butte County and two in San Fran­cisco, in­clud­ing one in fed­eral court, over the fire. The law­suits in­volve more than 430 plain­tiffs.

The blaze, which de­stroyed much of Par­adise on Nov. 8 and forced a mass evac­u­a­tion, was the dead­li­est and most de­struc­tive in state his­tory, de­stroy­ing much of Par­adise. Eighty-five peo­ple died.

Lawyers from as far away as Texas have de­scended on the county, open­ing of­fices, so­lic­it­ing clients with ev­ery­thing from com­mu­nity meet­ings to news­pa­per ads to robo­calls. Even­tu­ally, tens of the thou­sands of plain­tiffs could be in­volved.

One group that in­cludes the son of for­mer U.S. Sen. Bar­bara Boxer brought en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist Erin Brock­ovich, whose bat­tles against PG&E were made into a Hol­ly­wood movie bear­ing her name, to the area this week to pro­mote it­self. En­vi­ron­men­tal­ist Erin Brock­ovich, whose bat­tles against PG&E were made into a Hol­ly­wood movie, speaks to vic­tims of the Camp Fire at the Chico Women’s Club in Chico on Tues­day.

KARL MONDON — STAFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

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