As reported by Law360, Northern California wildfire victims will have until October 21, 2019 to file proof of claims against PG&E as a result of a ruling by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Montali made on Wednesday, June 26, 2019. The deadline was imposed despite objections from Lieff Cabraser partner Elizabeth Cabraser, who argued that a four-month deadline provides insufficient time to optimally reach fire victims with potential claims.
“We can’t hold up the train for the last holdout,” Judge Montali said, noting that there is always someone in any case who either isn’t reached or who chooses not to file. The judge said he didn’t see a good reason to delay the deadline to file.
Judge Montali described Ms. Cabraser as a “prestigious member of the bar,” even as he denied the request for an extended claim period. “You’re known for your expertise,” Judge Montali stated. “Everybody knows who you are, including me.”
Law360 noted that Cabraser told Judge Montali that many of the victims of the 2017 Northern California wildfires are traumatized and homeless, and that a January 2020 deadline to file would ensure that more victims are notified about the filing deadline. She said unlike other major cases she’s taken on — such as the Volkswagen emissions scandal or the Deepwater Horizon oil spill — this case involves displaced people who are not going to be easy to reach.
Cabraser suggested a social media plan with a larger reach than that proposed by PG&E, explaining that thousands of the letters the utility will send to alert residents of their right to file lawsuits will be addressed to homes that have been destroyed. She added that because displaced victims “live by their phones,” it’s crucial that these people be reached via parallel campaigns on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Formal notice of the October 2019 filing deadline will be distributed shortly at the Court’s direction.
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