Business insurance

PG&E officials reach $117 million settlement for California wildfires

(Reuters) – A $117 million settlement has been reached with former PG&E Corp executives and directors. who were charged in a lax public service safety oversight lawsuit ahead of the 2017 North Bay and 2018 Camp fires, two of California’s most destructive wildfires. .

The settlement was announced Thursday by the PG&E Fire Victim Trust, which compensates victims of fires that Pacific Gas & Electric’s parent company started between 2015 and 2018.

Frank Pitre, an attorney for the trust, said in a statement that the settlement was one of the largest of its kind and that the money would be used to pay the “vast majority” of claims held by federal agencies that have helped fight the fires.

PG&E awarded the trust the right to pursue claims against officers and directors when the utility emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2020.

More than 48,800 fire victims have already received $4.91 billion in payments. Insurers often cover the settlement indemnities of corporate officers and directors.

In a statement, PG&E called the settlement a “step forward” in its efforts to resolve issues that predated its January 2019 bankruptcy.

The North Bay Fires, sometimes called the Wine Country Fires, erupted in October 2017 in Napa, Sonoma and neighboring counties. They caused at least 44 deaths, burned more than 245,000 acres, and damaged or destroyed numerous wineries.

Thirteen months later, the Upstate Camp Fire killed 85 people, burned more than 153,000 acres, and destroyed most of Paradise, California, a town of about 26,000 people. It remains the state’s deadliest and most destructive wildfire.

The trust said the North Bay fires could have been avoided if PG&E had cut the power sooner, while the camp fire was caused by PG&E’s failure to inspect and maintain its aging equipment and infrastructure. .

Pitre said the bankruptcy court requires certain settlements to be used to satisfy claims by federal agencies.