Calaveras Enterprise

Lawsuit filed against PG&E for Butte Fire

A San Diego law firm filed a lawsuit Monday against Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and its tree maintenance contractor on behalf of two Mokelumne Hill residents who lost their homes in the Butte Fire.

The lawsuit was filed in Calaveras County Superior Court by the Singleton Law Firm on behalf of Brian Moeller and Jolene Stewart. Even though the cause of the fire is still under investigation, the lawsuit claims that PG&E and Trees Inc. improperly maintained the powerline and surrounding vegetation.

The plaintiffs are suing for injuries and damages caused through negligence and violation of public utilities and health and safety codes. Lead attorney Gerald Singleton was a principal attorney in the largest group of plaintiffs to file a lawsuit in 2007 against San Diego Gas & Electric, which was responsible in starting a series of fires which destroyed 300,000 acres in San Diego County.

Both Moeller and Stewart were renters and do not have access to homeowners insurance. Singleton said his law firm believes it is in the best of his clients to file the lawsuit sooner rather than later, even though the cause of the fire has not been determined.

“Given the situation our clients were in and the likelihood that PG&E caused it, we just didn’t want to wait,” Singleton said.

“The basic principle of the business is this, a properly maintained line will never be in a position to have a tree fall on it,” Singleton said. “Since that happened, we believe the line was negligently constructed and maintained.”

Brian Swanson, a spokesman for PG&E, said the utility will respond to the lawsuit through the normal legal process. “As we’ve said since Sept. 16, we are cooperating fully with Cal Fire in its investigation on the source of the ignition for the Butte fire.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *