Pennsylvania residents may remember the Camp Fire, the wildfire that spread through Northern California in November 2018, killing 85 people and destroying the towns of Paradise, Magalia and Concow. It turns out that a transmission line from Pacific Gas and Electric Company had failed and thrown out the sparks that started the fire. Strong winds then fanned it into the most destructive wildfire that the state has ever seen.
In March 2020, PG&E entered into a plea agreement with the Butte County District Attorney’s Office. The company, the largest utility in California, has pleaded guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter and one count of unlawfully starting a fire. As for why the plea included only 84 counts when a total of 85 people died, there is no clear answer.
The company faces a $4 million fine, the largest that’s possible. It will also fund efforts to give the residents affected by the fire access to water, the reason being that the fire had destroyed a certain canal called the Miocene Canal.
PG&E filed for bankruptcy in 2018 after facing billions of dollars’ worth of claims from victims. The court has ordered that the company resolve its bankruptcy case, one of the most complex in the nation’s history, before June 30, 2020.
Those who intend to file a wrongful death lawsuit may want legal representation because the case can quickly become complicated. With a lawyer, a victim’s family may have access to a network of third parties to help build up the case against the defendant. A victim’s family may leave it to their lawyer to negotiate for a reasonable settlement, litigating if one cannot be achieved. Wrongful death suits might reimburse plaintiffs for funeral and burial costs, loss of support and more.