Lawsuits Filed Against Pacific Gas and Electric Co. for Victims of Wine Country Fires

Posted on November 30, 2017

— Lawsuits allege PG&E failed to inspect and maintain power lines and electrical hardware surrounded by dry brush and overgrown vegetation —

SAN FRANCISCO – Trial law firms McNicholas & McNicholas, LLP, Frantz Law Group, APLC and Bridgford, Gleason & Artinian have filed several lawsuits against Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) on behalf of victims of the Wine Country Fires, after the utility company’s electrical equipment failed, igniting multiple large-scale fires. The lawsuits allege that PG&E negligently installed and maintained its electrical equipment, and failed to trim surrounding vegetation to prevent contact with its overhead power lines. Plaintiffs lost loved ones and suffered severe injuries, property damage and more.

“PG&E breached their duties to maintain and inspect its power lines and the surrounding vegetation, despite being fully aware of the existing drought conditions, and that these conditions could contribute to serious injury, damage or death to others,” said Patrick McNicholas, Partner at McNicholas & McNicholas, LLP. “PG&E failed to take reasonable precautions to protect the property of homeowners from a clearly foreseeable risk, and as a result of their conscious disregard for safety, caused devastation throughout Sonoma and Napa counties.”

Background Information

On Sunday, October 8, 2017, a series of fires ignited throughout Sonoma and Napa counties, individually known as the Tubbs, Pocket, Atlas, Nuns and Patrick fires. The fires blazed uncontrollably for 11 days and nights, burning more than 210,000 acres of land, destroying more than 8,400 homes and structures, and claiming the lives of at least 41 individuals.

These massive, destructive fires ignited and blazed out of control in excess of 1,470 degrees Fahrenheit after negligently installed and maintained high-powered power lines, transformers, and electrical equipment owned, operated, and maintained by PG&E failed. This electrical hardware failure created sparks and ultimately ignited multiple large-scale fires. Due to years of neglect and failure to trim surrounding vegetation, large trees and dry vegetation had grown over and into PG&E’s power lines, exacerbating the fires.

Demonstrating a pattern of conscious disregard for the safety of the public, PG&E was recently subjected to fines and penalties totaling a record $1.6 billion by the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC), as a result of safety violations by PG&E that caused the 2010 San Bruno Fire, which was responsible for numerous deaths, injuries and destroyed homes. At the time of imposing these record fines upon PG&E, the CPUC specifically stated that the purpose for rendering such a record fine against PG&E was to “ensure that nothing like this happens again.”