A car is seen charred and multiple homes destroyed along Sleepy Hollow Drive in Santa Rosa, Calif. Monday, October 9, 2017 as multiple fires break out across Sonoma, Napa and other North Bay counties. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

A car is seen charred and multiple homes destroyed along Sleepy Hollow Drive in Santa Rosa, Calif. Monday, October 9, 2017 as multiple fires break out across Sonoma, Napa and other North Bay counties. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

Former SF mayor among plaintiffs in seven new lawsuits against PG&E over North Bay fires

Seven new lawsuits were filed against PG&E Co. Tuesday in three different courts by people whose property was burned in the devastating North Bay wildfires in October.

The lawsuits in San Francisco, Sonoma County and Napa County superior courts accuse the company of negligence in failing to trim brush and inspect and maintain power lines adequately.

Several suits allege the fires were “an inevitable byproduct of PG&E’s willful and conscious disregard for public safety” by creating a situation in which downed power lines and other equipment problems caused or contributed to the fires.

The new cases bring the total of lawsuits filed against PG&E thus far to at least 15.

At least 43 people died in the fires.

State Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said earlier this month that insured losses of homes and other property amounted to $3.3 billion thus far and that the amount was expected to grow.

One of the new lawsuits was filed in San Francisco Superior Court by former Mayor Frank Jordan and Wendy Paskin-Jordan, who lost their home in Santa Rosa.

Their lawsuit says they saw a rapidly moving 75-foot-high wall of flames about one mile from their house at 11:15 p.m. on Oct. 8 and fled in a car with visiting houseguests to San Francisco.

Philippe Langer, owner of Kitoko Vineyards in Napa, sued PG&E in Napa County Superior Court.

Gregory and Christina Wilson, who huddled in the swimming pool of their Santa Rosa home for three hours early in the morning of Oct. 9, sued the utility in San Francisco Superior Court.

The lawsuit says that during that time, they repeatedly ducked under the water to escape the extremely hot air and burning embers, resurfacing for gasps of smoke-filled air. They were hospitalized for about 10 days for treatment of burns and smoke inhalation, their lawsuit says.

In addition to negligence, the lawsuits include claims of creation of public and private nuisance, violation of state utility and public-safety laws, and trespass by the fire. They ask for financial compensation for their losses and an additional punitive award.

PG&E spokesperson Ari Vanrenen said, “We are aware that lawsuits have been filed. There has been no determination on the causes of the fires. We’re focused on doing everything we can to help these communities rebuild and recover.

“Nothing is more important to us than the safety and well-being of our customers and communities we serve. Our thoughts are with everyone impacted by these devastating wildfires,” Vanrenen said in a statement.

The California Judicial Council is expected to decide whether all the wildfire lawsuits should be coordinated before a single judge for judicial efficiency. PG&E has urged that the lawsuits should be handled in five groups corresponding to the locations of the fires.Bay Area News

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Some people are concerned that University of California, San Francisco’s expansion at its Parnassus campus could cause an undesirable increase in the number of riders on Muni’s N-Judah line.<ins></ins>
Will UCSF’s $20 million pledge to SFMTA offset traffic woes?

An even more crowded N-Judah plus increased congestion ahead cause concern

Toni Isabella, a counselor at Ohlhoff Recovery Programs, finds helpful assistance from service dog Barker Posey.<ins> (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Toni Isabella: Helping people indoors and out recover from addiction’s dark side

Counselor supports holistic, progressive approach to healing

A health care worker receives one of the first COVID-19 vaccine doses at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital on Tuesday Dec. 15, 2020. (Courtesy SFgov)
SF to open three large sites for COVID-19 vaccinations

Breed: ‘We need more doses. We are asking for more doses’

San Jose Sharks (pictured Feb. 15, 2020 vs. Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center) open the season on Monday against the St. Louis Blues in St. Louis. (Tribune News Service archive)
This week in Bay Area sports

A look at the upcoming major Bay Area sports events (schedules subject… Continue reading

Tongo Eisen-Martin, a Bernal Heights resident, named San Francisco’s eighth poet laureate. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Tongo Eisen-Martin becomes San Francisco’s eighth poet laureate

Bernal Heights resident Tongo Eisen-Martin has become San Francisco’s eighth poet laureate.… Continue reading

Most Read