07 Jun DECEMBER 2018 UPDATE
October 23, 2018 was the three year anniversary of the start of the Porter Ranch Gas Leak. Until today, there are nearly 39,000 plaintiffs in this litigation who were affected by this terrible tragedy.
As you are aware, November 15, 2018 was the court ordered deadline for all questionnaires to be submitted. Any plaintiff who did not submit a questionnaire would be dismissed automatically and unable to file any other claims regarding the leak. The great news is that all Keosian Berberian clients were able to meet this deadline and will have their claims move forward! We would like to thank all of you for your continued effort and diligence in helping us answer these questionnaires on your behalf.
The Court has now decided that it will hold bellwether trials in order to inform all of the parties in this lawsuit the value of their claims and defenses. A bellwether trial is a practice run trial of a few cases out of all of the lawsuits taken from the main group to help understand the results of future similar cases. These trials will be selected at random and is set to begin sometime next year. We will find out when these trial dates are on December 12, 2018 during the next trial status conference or shortly thereafter.
Additionally, the presiding Judge in this matter, Judge Daniel Wiley, has removed himself from the lawsuit. This means that a new judge will be appointed to take over this lawsuit. At this point we are not aware of who the new judge will be but we will provide that information as soon as that information comes to light.
Lastly, we would like to address a few issues and concerns that have come up over the last month. On August 8, 2018, the government plaintiffs in this lawsuit settled their case with SoCalGas for $119.5 million dollars. This settlement is separate and does not apply to any of the individual actions which include property damage and body injuries. This settlement was to reimburse the city, county, and state governments for costs associated with their response to the leak, establish a program with the California Air Resources Board to mitigate the methane emissions from the leak, and to fund local environmental benefit projects administered by the government parties. It does not have any bearing on your individual recoveries.
Currently, we are diligently working on preparing for trial and reviewing over 14 million pages of documents provided by defendants. This is the discovery stage of the case, anticipated to go well into next year.