Issue: Uncontrolled natural gas leak
Southern California Gas Leak Cases, JCCP No. 4861. Lieff Cabraser has been selected by the Los Angeles County Superior Court to help lead two important class action cases on behalf of homeowners and businesses that suffered economic injuries in the wake of the massive Porter Ranch gas leak, which began in October of 2015 and lasted into February of 2016. During this time, huge quantities of natural gas spewed out of an old well at Southern California Gas’s Aliso Canyon Facility and into the air of Porter Ranch, a neighborhood located adjacent to the Facility and 25 miles northwest of Los Angeles.
This large-scale environmental disaster forced thousands of residents to leave their homes for months on end, while the leak continued, and for several months thereafter. It also caused local business to dry up during the busy holiday season, as many residents had evacuated the neighborhood and visitors avoided the area. Evidence suggests the leak was caused by at least one old and malfunctioning well used to inject and retrieve gas. Southern California Gas Company allegedly removed the safety valve on the well that could have prevented the leak. As a result, the gas leak has left a carbon footprint larger than the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Together with other firms chosen to pursue class relief for these victims, Lieff Cabraser filed two class action complaints — one on behalf of Porter Ranch homeowners, and another on behalf of Porter Ranch businesses. Southern California Gas argued in response that the injuries suffered by homeowners and businesses cannot proceed as class actions. In May 2017, the Superior Court rejected these arguments. The class action cases are proceeding with discovery into Southern California Gas Company’s role in this disaster.
In response to the complaints, Southern California Gas argued that the injuries suffered by homeowners and businesses should not proceed as class actions. In May 2017, the California Superior Court rejected these arguments. After subsequent continued hard-fought litigation, the Court certified the class, and a settlement of $40 million was reached in 2022. Final settlement approval followed later that year.