Where will the San Bruno fire cases be heard? This morning, Judge Forcum ruled that all of the cases should be heard by one judge, and that judge should be in San Mateo County. That was no surprise. Now, it’s up to the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court to approve Judge Forcum’s ruling. When she does that (and there’s little question that she will), a judge will be selected from the San Mateo bench to handle all the cases. We’re expecting a judge to be picked within the next three weeks. Until then, the PG&E cases remain at a standstill.
One of the lawsuits that Judge Forcum ordered coordinated with all the others was a lawsuit brought by PG&E shareholders against PG&E management. The shareholders claim that management knew about the problems with the pipeline and did nothing to stop the explosion from happening. By allowing the explosion, the lawsuit claims, management hurt the price of PG&E’s stock.
The only argument at today’s hearing centered around that case. PG&E argued that that the shareholder lawsuit should not be coordinated with the others because the questions in that case have little to do with those in the personal injury suits. Therefore, PG&E argued, they should not be all lumped together. Judge Forcum disagreed. The shareholder suit is all about what PG&E management knew about the dangers and when they knew it. But that question is also important in the personal injury lawsuits because it may determine whether PG&E should be liable to the San Bruno residents for punitive damages.