Gov. Brown Proposes Changes in Liability Laws for Utility Companies

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Gov. Jerry Brown

California Gov. Jerry Brown is proposing changes in the state’s liability laws for utility companies. The governor made the proposal as the state continues to suffer from wildfires, which exposed utility companies, including PG&E and Edison, to billions of dollars in liabilities.

Under a legal doctrine called “inverse condemnation,” utility companies are automatically liable for damages if their equipment contributes to the cause of a wildfire or any disaster.

Last fall, Northern California experienced multiple wildfires that destroyed thousands of structures and killed dozens of people. Investigators found that PG&E’s downed power lines triggered the wildfires. The utility company is currently facing numerous lawsuits as fire victims alleged that it was responsible for the disaster.

Details of Brown’s Proposal

On Tuesday, Brown sent his proposal to the state legislative leaders responsible for developing a response to the deadly wildfires.

Under the governor’s proposal, the courts will determine whether the utility company acted reasonably and followed safety regulations.

Ken Lescord

Who cares what this moron even thanks.

William Rees

This may be the first sane decision made by Governor Moonbeam and flies in the face of his anti capitalist inclinations. PGE and Edison did have issues in the past exercising appropriate due diligence, but even then, there were issues not in their control. At the same time, the State could have done more to provide the necessary support for PGE and SoCalEd when it came to easements and laws to support reasonable vegetation management implementation. It seems that this decision is recognition by the State that in spite of great strides made by the utilities, the liability structure was still significantly weighted against them. If the liability laws are changes as suggested by the Governor, a much more reasonable and balanced approach will be utilized and contributory negligence will take the day.