PG&E Settlement Sets Up Big Showdown with Wildfire Victims

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When PG&E announced a settlement Friday with insurance companies, allocating $11 billion to settle most of their wildfire claims, the move was hailed as an important step forward for the utility.  That’s because the company needs to settle all outstanding claims from recent wildfires in order to emerge from bankruptcy.

Still, arguably the most important group, and most expense claim against PG&E is still unsettled, and that comes from thousands of individual wildfire victims who have sued the utility for some $40 billion dollars.

All of those claims are pending in state and federal court, and a resolution will likely take months.  They include damages caused by the Tubbs Fire after a judge ruled fire victims can bring their case against PG&E despite a Cal Fire finding that the utility may not have been directly responsible.

While the insurance companies had asked for around $20 billion, they settled for far less.   Months ago PG&E agreed to pay 18 towns and government entities $1 billion to settle claims for wildfire damages and expenses dating back to 2015.

Now the focus shifts to individual wildfire victims, and though PG&E proposed capping payouts at just over $8 billion dollars, victims and their attorneys believe the payout to victims who lost homes, businesses and loved ones should be closer to $40 billion.  That’s why this next phase of negotiation will be the most crutial one yet, and potentially most expensive for the embattled utility.

PG&E is under pressure to settle all claims against it by next June, in order to qualify for a state approved plan that would set up a giant fund to help utilities pay for future claims spurred by wildfires across the state of California.

Claimants have until October 21st to bring individual claims for losses against PG&E in order to quality for potential payouts from the utility.

 

 

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