The California-based company, accused of “breach of duty,” fears it will not be able to pay $ 13.5 billion in severance pay.
A trust that represents more than 80,000 victims of deadly forest fires ignited from the Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) grid is suing nearly two dozen former utility executives and board members for alleged breach of duty to ensure the equipment does not have any Kills people.
The complaint filed in the San Francisco Superior Court on Wednesday is an offshoot of a $ 13.5 billion settlement that PG&E reached with forest fire victims when the utility went bankrupt from January 2019 to June 2020.
Under this agreement, PG&E granted victims the right to follow the utility hierarchy that led to and during a series of forest fires that killed more than 100 people and more than 25,000 homes and businesses in 2017 and 2018 were destroyed in Northern California.
John Trotter, the trustee overseeing the $ 13.5 billion settlement, is now conducting an action targeting a litany of former executives and board members.
The list includes two of PG & E’s former directors, Anthony Earley and Geisha Williams, who received millions of dollars during their reigns. The company is now headed by Patricia Poppe, a former Michigan energy company who is overseen by a board of directors that was revised by PG&E during the bankruptcy proceedings.
PG&E did not immediately respond to a request from The Associated Press for comment.
PG&E is working on power lines to repair damage caused by the campfire in Paradise, California on November 21, 2018 [File: Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters]The forest fire victims’ lawsuit aims to take advantage of the $ 200 million to $ 400 million liability insurance that PG&E has taken out for the former executives and board members, said Frank Pitre, the attorney handling the case. He told the AP he hoped to resolve the lawsuit within the next year to help forest fire victims who are still struggling to rebuild their lives.
If the lawsuit is successful, it could help make up for a roughly $ 1 billion shortfall that forest fire victims’ trust is currently facing, as half of the deal promised was a PG&E deal that is currently worth less is beaten towards the end of 2019 as was hoped for at the time.
Trotter acknowledged the problem in a letter to the January 26 wildfire victims – many of whom had refused to accept the terms of an agreement that saw half of the promised $ 13.5 billion in shares in a company with a company There had to be a history of negligence.
So far, however, none of the PG&E shares have been sold by the Trust, leaving time for the stock to rebound.
PG & E’s share price hovered around $ 11.30 on Wednesday. Stocks have moved between a low of $ 3.55 and $ 25.19 over the past two turbulent years. “I am still optimistic that we will reach the mark targeted for PG&E shares,” Pitre told the AP.
The complaint against the former executives and board members of PG&E is intended to bind them to actions for which the utility company has already consented.
These include the company pleading guilty to 84 cases of involuntary manslaughter for causing a devastating fire in 2018 that wiped out the city of Paradise, California and the surrounding area. PG&E was fined $ 4 million in this case, the maximum penalty allowed.
“If ever there was a company that deserved jail, it’s PG&E,” said Michael Deems, a Butte County judge, at the time the utility was sentenced eight months ago.
The Deems conviction is included in the lawsuit of the forest fire victims, as is harsh criticism from U.S. District Judge William Alsup, who oversees PG & E’s probation in another criminal case related to the utility’s neglect of natural gas pipelines who blew up an entire neighborhood in a San Francisco Bay Area suburb in 2010.
Chris Johns, President of PG&E, speaks during a press conference the day after a natural gas pipeline ruptured that caused an explosion and fire that destroyed dozens of homes and killed at least four people on September 10, 2010 in San Bruno, California [File: Ramin Rahimian/Reuters]Alsup has repeatedly ripped off PG&E for failing to keep its power lines up in recent years, including during a court hearing earlier this month cited in the victims’ lawsuit.
“PG&E was a terror to the people of California, TERROR,” Alsup said during the February 3rd hearing.
Pitre said it was time to blame those hired to run and oversee the company for PG&E ‘s recklessness. “We are talking about a massive breach of duty.”