The PG&E Fire Victim Trust announced today that it has been funded effective today. The Trust received the Fire Victim Trust settlement proceeds from PG&E which includes 476,995,175 shares of PG&E Common Stock and the first installment of cash funding of $5.385 billion ($5.4 billion reduced by previous court-ordered advances of $15 million) in accordance with PG&E’s Plan of Reorganization.
Following the Northern California wildfires in 2015 to 2018, PG&E Corporation and Pacific Gas and Electric Company jointly filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of California. Formation and funding of the PG&E Fire Victim Trust was approved by the Bankruptcy Court to provide compensation to individual wildfire victims, including families and businesses, and certain other parties with wildfire-related claims.
The Fire Victim Trust will evaluate, administer, process, and resolve eligible claims arising from the 2015 Butte Fire, 2017 North Bay Fires, and 2018 Camp Fire. The Fire Victim Trust will provide an efficient and equitable process to review claims and compensate fire victims for both economic and non-economic damages caused by these fires, including destruction or damage to real estate and personal property, additional living expenses, lost wages, business losses, personal injury or death and related medical expenses, and emotional distress.
Fire Victim claimants and their attorneys may begin filing information with respect to their claims as of July 1, 2020 on the Fire Victim Trust’s website at www.firevictimtrust.com. On the website, claimants and their attorneys will find answers to Frequently Asked Questions as well as additional resources to assist them in the claim submission process.
Additionally, the Fire Victim Trust announced the upcoming launch of the Pro Se Liaison program which has been developed in coordination with the University of California Berkeley School of Law. This program is designed to provide assistance from law students supervised by the Fire Victim Trust for claimants who are not represented by attorneys and need guidance in the claim submission process. Information about the Pro Se Liaison program will be available on the Fire Victim Trust’s website in mid-July.
The Fire Victim Trust will be administered under the direction of the Trustee, the Honorable John K. Trotter (Ret.), and the Claims Administrator, Cathy Yanni. Having retired from the California Court of Appeal in 1987, Justice Trotter gained a reputation as one of the nation’s leading experts in alternative dispute resolution (ADR). Justice Trotter has served as a Special Master in several Multi District Litigation Pharmaceutical matters, including, Zyprexa I, Zyprexa II, Baycol, Rezulin, Vioxx, the Toyota Sudden Acceleration case, and other complex cases in both Federal and State court, supervising the claims of and payments to thousands of plaintiffs in each litigation. He also formulated a resolution program for the 2007 San Diego fire cases and supervised the resolution of all the victims’ claims.
Cathy Yanni, the Fire Victim Trust’s Claims Administrator, is the Administrator of the Wildfire Assistance Program, which has provided urgent needs funding to eligible wildfire victims. Throughout her career, Ms. Yanni has settled tens of thousands of cases and facilitated distribution of billions of dollars in settlement funds to claimants. She has overseen multiple claims reconciliation processes. Cathy Yanni has been a Court Appointed Special Master and/or Mediator in numerous cases involving wildfires, mass torts, and class actions. In addition to being appointed as an appeal panelist in the Takata Airbag Tort Compensation Trust Fund established in the TK Holdings Inc. bankruptcy case, she has been appointed as an Administrator, Special Master, or Mediator in thousands of other cases. She also worked with Justice Trotter to formulate a resolution program for the 2007 San Diego fire cases, ultimately acting as mediator and arbitrator for the program.
The Fire Victim Trust Agreement provides for a Trust Oversight Committee, which is an oversight committee selected and appointed by the Consenting Fire Claimant Professionals and the Tort Claimants Committee engaged in the PG&E bankruptcy proceeding, to oversee the Fire Victim Trust and represent the interests of fire victim claimants. The members of the Trust Oversight Committee are: Amy Bach, Esq. of United Policyholders; Douglas Boxer, Esq. of Law Office of Douglas Boxer; Elizabeth Cabraser, Esq., of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP; Michael Kelly, Esq. of Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger; Frank M. Pitre, Esq., of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP; Amanda L. Riddle, Esq., of Corey, Luzaich, de Ghetaldi & Riddle LLP; Bill Robins, Esq. of Robins Cloud LLP; Gerald Singleton, Esq., of Singleton Law Firm; and Steven J. Skikos, Esq. of Skikos, Crawford, Skikos & Joseph, LLP.
The Fire Victim Trust has retained BrownGreer PLC to assist the Trustee and the Claims Administrator in the processing of Fire Victim claims in a fair, consistent, equitable and pro rata manner as mandated by the Fire Victim Trust Agreement and the order of the Bankruptcy Court. BrownGreer is a premier settlement administrator with more than 25 years’ experience assisting clients with the legal and administrative aspects of the design, approval, and implementation of settlement protocols and claims facilities required to resolve mass claims in settlements arising from class actions, multidistrict litigation, bankruptcy proceedings, government enforcement actions, and other aggregation vehicles. They served as the Claims Processor in the Wildfire Assistance Program and also have served in some of the nation’s most significant resolution programs, including the National Football League Concussion settlement, the BP/Deepwater Horizon settlement, and the Vioxx personal injury settlement.
The Fire Victim Trust also has retained Brown Rudnick LLP as its counsel. Brown Rudnick has extensive experience in all aspects of bankruptcy reorganizations and settlement fund structures, including those involving complex mass torts. For example, in addition to representation of Justice Trotter and Ms. Yanni throughout the pre-effective date period of the Fire Victim Trust, Brown Rudnick presently advises the Trustee of the Takata Airbag Tort Compensation Trust Fund and the Special Master in the DOJ Takata Restitution Fund and has acted as counsel to official committees and interested parties in many mass tort cases of national significance.
Further information about the PG&E Fire Victim Trust can be found at www.firevictimtrust.com and questions may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.