Thursday, September 19, 2019

 


The Latest: Jury to decide PG&E role in wine country fire

SAN FRANCISCO — The Latest on rulings issued by the judge presiding over PG&E's bankruptcy case (all times local):

5:15 p.m.

A state jury will get to decide whether Pacific Gas and Electric equipment ignited a deadly wildfire in California wine country nearly two years ago.

State fire investigators previously determined that the fire, which killed 22 people and destroyed more than 5,000 homes in the Santa Rosa area, was caused by a private electrical system.

Victims of the 2017 fire disagreed and demanded a jury trial.

Meanwhile, PG&E argued that a judge overseeing its bankruptcy case should determine whether it should be held liable for the fire and owes those victims money.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Montali ruled Friday the state court was a suitable venue for resolving the matter.

If a jury decides the company is responsible for the fire, PG&E could face a far more costly exit from bankruptcy.

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3:50 p.m.

Pacific Gas and Electric gets to retain control of its multibillion-dollar bankruptcy process after a judge denied requests by two groups of creditors to file their own Chapter 11 exit plan.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Montali ruled Friday that although the bids were tempting, opening the door for competing restructuring plans would lead to an expensive and lengthy process that will not benefit victims of recent California wildfires.

The San Francisco-based utility filed for bankruptcy in January after it said it could not afford an estimated $30 billion in liabilities from wildfires its equipment may have ignited in 2017 and 2018.

PG&E has until Sept. 26 to submit its reorganization plan.

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