PG&E Bankruptcy and Wildfire Claims
Tuesday March 19, 2019 — PG&E filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on January 29, 2019. This means that civil claims arising out of the 2017 North Bay Fires and the 2018 Camp Fire will now proceed through the bankruptcy court. Fire victims do not lose their right to compensation because of the bankruptcy and should consult an attorney about filing a claim.
If you suffered personal injury, property loss, or business losses in the following or related fires, you may still pursue legal damages from PG&E in the bankruptcy court:
- Atlas Fire (Napa and Solano Counties)
- Camp Fire (Butte County)
- Cascade Fire (Yuba County)
- Cherokee Fire (Butte County)
- Highway 37 Fire (Sonoma County)
- Honey Fire (Butte County)
- La Porte Fire (Butte County)
- Lobo Fire (Nevada County)
- Nuns Fire (Napa and Sonoma Counties)
- Pocket Fire (Sonoma County)
- Redwood Valley/Potter Fire (Mendocino County)
- Sulphur Fire (Lake County)
- Tubbs Fire (Sonoma and Napa Counties)
We invite North Bay and Butte County fire victims to contact our office to learn more about the PG&E bankruptcy and understand your legal options.
North Bay Fires Map
Camp Fire Map
Effect of PG&E Bankruptcy on Wildfire Claims
Shortly after the October 2017 fires, victims across the North Bay began filing lawsuits against PG&E based on the company’s alleged role in causing the disaster. These lawsuits were subsequently coordinated into a mass tort proceeding in San Francisco County Superior Court. Butte County victims similarly filed lawsuits after the 2018 Camp Fire, with a motion to coordinate those cases still pending.
PG&E’s bankruptcy filing on January 29, 2019 resulted in a stay (or pausing) of the fire victims’ lawsuits for both the North Bay and Camp fires. Instead, claims for fire-related damages will now be incorporated into the bankruptcy process.
Through bankruptcy, PG&E will seek to continue its business operations while restructuring its debts and resolving liabilities. PG&E filed for bankruptcy voluntarily, and the company is not insolvent. Accordingly, PG&E will remain in possession and control of its business during bankruptcy (referred to as a “debtor in possession” or “DIP”).
At the same time, PG&E’s creditors, the United States Trustee, and the bankruptcy court will work with the company to propose and confirm a reorganization plan.
Tort Claimants as Creditors
Individuals and families with civil claims against PG&E for fire-related damages are considered unsecured creditors for purposes of the bankruptcy process. Our attorneys represent thousands of such claimants throughout the North Bay and Butte County. We will continue to pursue these claims through mediation or other potential resolution that takes place in the bankruptcy court.
Wildfire victims will also be represented as a separate creditor class by an official Tort Claimants’ Committee (or TCC). The formation of this committee is designed to give the individuals and families most affected by the 2017 and 2018 fires an independent voice throughout the bankruptcy proceedings. As Governor Newsom’s office stated in a letter to the U.S. Trustee, “Most vulnerable in this process are the wildfire victims who were uninsured, underinsured or have potential claims against the company for personal injury and wrongful death. These individual victims should not be left to fend for themselves in a creditor class outnumbered by sophisticated and deep-pocketed financial institutions and insurance companies.”
How to File Your Wildfire Claim in the PG&E Bankruptcy
If you have previously retained an attorney for your PG&E claim, you do not need to take any further action. Your attorney will prepare the necessary information about your case and file a proof of claim on your behalf in the bankruptcy court. Your attorney will continue to represent you through the remainder of the proceedings until your case is resolved.
Any potential claimants who have not yet hired an attorney should be aware of upcoming time limits. As part of the bankruptcy process, the court will announce a “bar date,” after which time no further claims may be included in the proceeding or compensated. This time period may be shorter than the statute of limitations that might otherwise apply in the civil court.
Accordingly, if you or a loved one experienced personal injury, property loss, business losses, or other damages, you should consult a lawyer in a timely manner. Our experienced mass tort attorneys represent thousands of North Bay and Camp Fire victims in the PG&E bankruptcy and we continue to evaluate and accept new claims.
Contact our office by phone or through our brief online form to discuss your case. We provide all consultations at no cost and with no obligation.