Judge stops class action suit against SDG&E for 2007 fire

Crime, Law and JusticeWildfiresTrials and ArbitrationJustice SystemRichard StraussSan Diego Gas & Electric Company

A judge has ruled against two motions to form class- action lawsuits against San Diego Gas & Electric Co., stemming from the wildfires that ravaged the county in 2007, it was reported today.

In his ruling Thursday, Superior Court Judge Richard Strauss said granting the motions would "further complicate an already complex procedure,'' The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

Had he approved the motions, hundreds of thousands of plaintiffs could have potentially been added to the case, according to the newspaper.

More than 70 lawsuits encompassing more than 1,000 victims have been filed against the utility since two state investigations found SDG&E power lines sparked the Witch Creek, Guejito and Rice Canyon fires in October 2007.

The motions rejected Thursday sought to create two groups of victims: those with direct damage from the fires and those who suffered as a result of having to be evacuated from their homes.

Combined, the three fires killed two people and destroyed more than 1,300 homes in the North County. They also prompted the largest fire evacuation in the nation's history, with more than half a million people fleeing their homes and businesses.

In theory, had the class-action motions been approved, evacuees could have sued for up to $7,500 for the loss of their property during that time, according to the Union-Tribune.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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