Witch Creek Wildfires San Diego County 2007
John T. Richards, APLC represented dozens of Plaintiffs to confidential settlements.
As reported by the San Diego Union Tribune, the Witch Creek wildfires began in the early afternoon of October 21, 2007, when sparking power lines ignited brush in a remote area southwest of Santa Ysabel during fierce Santa Ana winds that lasted for days. The Guejito fire began about 12 hours later in the San Pasqual Valley, also caused by sparking power lines, according to investigators, and eventually merged with the Witch Creek blaze. Early in the morning of Oct. 22 those fires burned into Rancho Bernardo.
San Diego Gas & Electric Insurance payments of $1.1 billion have been exhausted.
SDG&E has estimated remaining fire and litigation costs associated with the 2007 fires at $603 million, in a recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. That tally fluctuates based on legal settlements.
John T. Richards, APLC represented dozens of individual Plaintiffs who made claims of property damage, loss of business income, environmental loss, and emotional destress. John T. Richards, APLC prosecuted complex theories of inverse condemnation, negligence, trespass, and nuisance. These lawsuits where joined with thousands of other similar situated clients through their own personal attorneys. Each of these lawsuits “has been settled”. These settlements are confidential.
The utility’s request to have its customers pay those wildfire liabilities through streamlined recovery procedures ran into a chorus of opposition at packed local public hearings in April of 2017 by the California Public Utilities Commission.
Even if rejected, “SDG&E will file an application for cost recovery utilizing other cost recovery application processes available,” the company told investors in its May earnings report.
The Sempra Energy subsidiary concluded “that it is probable that it will be permitted to recover from its utility customers substantially all reasonably incurred costs of resolving wildfire claims in excess of its liability insurance coverage.”
Plaintiff Attorneys such as John T. Richards, APLC of consistently opposed any effort by Sempra Energy to pass their out of pocket costs to rate payers. On August 15, 2017 the Court rejected Sempra request to pass on these costs to rate payers.