The Fire Victim Trust, established to pay California wildfire victims on July 1, 2020, has received 40,000 claims questionnaires representing more than 70,000 claimants and roughly 250,000 individual claims, according to the trustee.
Justice John K. Trotter (Ret)., the trustee, filed a letter with the bankruptcy court this week containing information for victims of the 2015-2018 wildfires that Pacific Gas & Electric has been blamed for starting, including an update on the number of payments made to fire victims.
The trust earlier this year filed a lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court against certain former officers and directors of PG&E Corp. and Pacific Gas and Electric Co. for their role in causing the catastrophic 2017 North Bay Fires and the 2018 Camp Fire.
The claims process opened on Aug. 17, 2020.
According to the letter from Trotter, roughly 27 million pages of materials have been received by the claims administrator and must be reviewed.
“The damage categories eligible for payment are claims for real property, including forestry and landscaping, personal property, personal or business income loss, out-of-pocket expenses, wrongful death, bodily personal injury, emotional distress and other injuries,” the letter states. “Claimants may make claims for each category of loss which they have suffered. For example, some claimants have made multiple claims within one damage category, multiple claims across several damage categories or multiple claims in every damage category.”
The trust so far has issued 7,364 preliminary payments for a total of $95,523,500 paid to victims.
The trust began distributing the first round of pro rata payments in mid-March toward satisfying claims from those who suffered losses in the 2015 Butte Fire, 2017 North Bay Fires and 2018 Camp Fire. The initial pro rata payment is 30% of the total approved and accepted claim amount, according to the letter.
“As of today, the Trust has issued 183 pro rata payments, totaling $45,816,527,” the letter states. “In all, the Trust has issued payments totaling $141,340,027 to Fire Victims. Notices of payments, which began being issued to claimants on February 15, 2021, continue to be issued daily and payments are made on a twice monthly basis, on the 15th and last day of the month.”
The trust has also begun to prosecute claims involving third-party liabilities arising from the fires, which involve individual and corporate contractors allegedly responsible for failing to maintain vegetation, trees, lines, poles and other PG&E equipment consistent with rules and regulations intended to prevent wildfires.
“These cases are in their early stage and I will keep you informed as they develop and progress,” the letter states.
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