– The mass tort lawsuit alleges PG&E negligently operated, repaired and maintained electrical equipment that sparked the most devastating and deadly wildfire in California history –
LOS ANGELES – Trial law firms Frantz Law Group, APLC, McNicholas & McNicholas, LLP and Bridgford, Gleason & Artinian have filed a lawsuit against Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) for causing the devastating Camp/Paradise Fire that started on November 8, 2018, alleging PG&E failed to adhere to electrical and fire safety practices, resulting in poorly maintained power lines that sparked above overgrown vegetation, igniting the most deadly wildfire in California history. Having claimed the lives of at least 88 individuals, destroyed more than 500 businesses and nearly 14,000 homes, leaving thousands homeless, the Camp/Paradise Fire is at least the tenth wildfire within the past year that this trio of trial law firms have sued PG&E for allegedly causing.
According to the lawsuit, preliminary investigations have discovered that PG&E was aware of issues with power lines in the vicinity days before the Camp/Paradise Fire started, and despite advising residents in Butte County that power may be shut off on November 8 and 9 due to risk of wildfire, PG&E did not turn off the power. On November 8, 2018 at 6:15 a.m., minutes before the Camp/Paradise Fire started, PG&E submitted an electrical incident report to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), advising that it had experienced an outage on a transmission line near the Camp/Paradise Fire origin.
“PG&E has at least 20 years of well-documented knowledge, experience and consequences resulting from their substandard safety protocols and conscious disregard for the safety of the communities it serves, including billions of dollars in fines and hundreds of criminal convictions,” said James Frantz, owner and CEO of Frantz Law Group. Mr. Frantz went on to say, “Although many clients are joined together as plaintiffs, this is not a class action lawsuit, and anyone hoping to recover for their losses should retain the services of an experienced attorney.”
The lawsuit alleges that these careless and willful shortcomings are part of PG&E’s 20+ year pattern and practice of choosing corporate profits over the safety of the communities near their high-powered electrical equipment. According to the lawsuit, the same corporate decision-making scheme was behind the causes of PG&E’s other major utility-failure catastrophes, such as the Trauner Fire (1994); Mission District Fire (2003); Rancho Cordova Explosion (2008); San Bruno Explosion (2010); Cupertino Explosion (2011); the Carmel Explosion (2014); Butte Fire (2015); and the Wine Country Fires (2017).
“Had PG&E followed the standard of care in inspecting, repairing and maintaining its high-powered electrical equipment, as required by law and industry standards, the catastrophic Camp/Paradise Fire could have been avoided,” said Patrick McNicholas, Partner at McNicholas & McNicholas, LLP.
“Our investigation reveals and we allege that PG&E has been willfully noncompliant with laws and industry standards, dedicating less resources each year to trimming vegetation to avoid hazardous overgrowth in the Butte County area,” added Richard Bridgford, Partner at Bridgford, Gleason & Artinian. “The communities that contribute to its profits had to pay the price for their negligence.”
On November 8, 2018, at approximately 6:15 a.m., PG&E submitted an electrical incident report to the CPUC, advising that it had experienced an outage on a transmission line near the Camp/Paradise Fire origin. California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection estimates that the Camp/Paradise Fire ignited at approximately 6:33 a.m. destroying more than 150,000 acres at a speed of 80 football fields per minute, residents had just minutes to escape, and unfortunately, many did not. Those who survived lost loved ones, their land, their home and everything inside of it.
Days before the fire, PG&E was allegedly aware of high-powered lines causing sparks in the vicinity of where the Camp/Paradise Fire started, and had also advised residents in Butte County that power may be shut off on November 8 and 9 due to weather conditions and risk of wildfire. Despite these warnings, PG&E did not turn off the power on November 8.
According to the lawsuit, preliminary investigations indicate that the Camp/Paradise Fire’s ignition originated with negligently operated, repaired and maintained electrical equipment as well as poor electrical and fire safety practices, including sub-standard repair practices, maintenance practices, vegetation management practices and others. In recent years, independent reviews of PG&E infrastructure have shown that tens of thousands of miles of its overhead lines are in disrepair. Additionally, investigations have discovered that 36% of PG&E’s downed-line incidents, such as the incident leading up to the Camp/Paradise Fire, failed in remotely de-energizing power lines, leaving one of the three lines energized and exposed to vegetation until a technician travels to the scene and manually de-energizes the line.
Filed on behalf of several families, the lawsuit is the first of many mass tort lawsuits to be filed by this trio of law firms against PG&E for allegedly causing the Camp/Paradise Fire. Frantz Law Group, APLC, McNicholas & McNicholas, LLP and Bridgford, Gleason & Artinian currently represent nearly 2,000 homeowners in Northern and Southern California against PG&E and Southern California Edison for deaths and property loss spawning from the 2017 and 2018 Northern and Southern California fires, including the Tubbs Fire, Atlas Fire, Nuns Fire, Redwood Valley Complex Fire (aka “Wine Country Fires”) and the Thomas Fire/Mudslides in Santa Barbara, Ventura and Montecito.
Frantz Law Group, APLC, a California-based law firm represents more than 10,000 victims against various utility companies for their negligence in causing environmental disasters, including wildfires and mudslides. With over 100 combined years of trial and litigation experience, Frantz Law Group, APLC has successfully obtained tens of millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements for victims of wrongful death and property damage due to public utility negligence for their failures to safely maintain their electrical equipment.*
Frantz Law Group, APLC
236 Broadway Street, Suite B
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*Results in other matters do not constitute a guarantee, warranty or prediction. This advertisement is not a guarantee or prediction of any recovery as each case is dependent on its particular facts.
James P Frantz Esq., Patrick McNicholas Esq. and Richard Bridgford, Esq. are responsible for the contents of this press release.