CHICO — With an admission of liability to the Security and Exchange Commission and $10 billion set aside for reparations, lawyers filing Camp Fire suits against PG&E say the company has already admitted guilt.
They just want the utility to start paying the people who have been hurt.
Erin Brockovich, a famous name that’s battled PG&E and won, came to Chico to give hope to Camp Fire victims in their fight.
“I want them to know really how hard that was, how hard it is. It’s not that I lost my house. It’s not just that I lost my memories, ” said Kaya Cox. “It was my entire way of life… every single moment of my life and how I did stuff and how my daughter did stuff… it is completely gone.”
That’s what Cox wants PG&E to understand five months after seeing the life she knew disappear in smoke and flames on Skyway Road in Paradise.
Poor management of utility’s transmission lines is believed to be the cause of the Camp Fire – the November beast that raged through Butte County, evicting 33 members of Cox’s family, thousands of others and taking 85 lives.
What parallels does Brockovich see between the Hinkley situation and the Camp Fire?
“The same company… the people, you know. They’re left stunned and dazed and harmed, ” she said.
Twenty-seven years after pressing Pacific Gas and Electric on water contamination, Kayla Cox and her daughter are two of the people Brockovich is trying make whole with coordinated lawsuits.
Those suits have been filed by a coalition of attorneys, led by the firm she works with Mauro, O’Neill Archer, LLC.
While Cox has signed onto the effort already, along with about 3,400 others, dozens more came out to an information meeting Brockovich helped led to see if suing will be a step they’ll take in their recovery.
“We’ve just gotta have some better parameters with this company… that has proven itself through no one’s fault but their own that they’re not running their company correctly,” Brockovich said.
She’d like to see PG&E stop paying a billion dollars to its shareholders and instead pay those devastated by the Camp Fire.
One of the lawyers backing Brockovich and the suit isn’t just focused on the legal wrangling.
After running for his life, Joe Earley hoped for four days that his home and business hadn’t been consumed by the Camp Fire.
Then reality set in.
More than just monetary pain, he wants the suit to make PG&E realize the value of what he says the company stole from so many and to fix it for the future.
“Do your damn job… do your job,” he said.
“For those considering signing on to a lawsuit against PG&E, the deadline will likely come in the fall as bankruptcy proceedings for the company move forward.
Erin Brockovich will be hosting another community meeting for Camp Fire victims Saturday from 10 a.m. until noon at the Palms Event Center in Chico.