PG&E filed today its answer to the lawsuits brought by the victims of the San Bruno fire. This was PG&E’s first opportunity, legally speaking, to publicly account for itself in court.
PG&E owned up to nothing. Instead, the document lists the 32 reasons why PG&E says it is not responsible for the fire and the harm that resulted from it. Some of the most interesting:
State of the Art. PG&E says it is not responsible because the pipe that exploded was “state of the art.” (Paragraph 20.)
Does PG&E really believe that a high pressure pipe with missing welds and welds that go only halfway through is “state of the art”?
Looks like PG&E is taking issue with the NTSB, which found that the pipe that exploded failed to meet the minimum standards in effect in 1956.
Comparative Negligence. PG&E says plaintiffs’ injuries may have been caused by persons other than defendants “who may have been legally responsible under the doctrine of comparative negligence [or] contributory negligence.” (Paragraph 9.)
What does this mean? In plain English, PG&E is saying that plaintiffs themselves are to some extent responsible for their own injuries.
Statute of Limitations. PG&E says that plaintiffs claims are barred by the statute of limitations. (Paragraph 3.) But heck, it hasn’t even been a year yet.
In sum, PG&E admits nothing, denies everything, and blames others, including its victims.
PG&E ends with a request to the court that plaintiffs be required to pay it “for costs of suit [and] that plaintiffs take nothing.”
That’s kind of harsh. Does PG&E really believe that plaintiffs should walk away without any compensation at all?
We hear a lot about frivolous lawsuits. But once in a while you run across a frivolous defense.