PG&E Sued By Residents Over Deadly Northern California Natural Gas Blast

PG&E Corp. was sued over claims the company was negligent in causing the Sept. 9 natural-gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno, California, that killed eight people.

The lawsuit, filed last week in state court in Redwood City, California, seeks recovery of unspecified damages. It also requests an order enforcing payment of the $100 million PG&E said will be used to compensate those hurt by the blast. The complaint by injured San Bruno resident Daniele DiTrapani mirrors claims in a previous suit filed against PG&E.

For as long as four weeks before the blast, “residents in the Crestmoor neighborhood smelled natural gas and attempted to get PG&E to investigate the problem,” according to the Sept. 29 complaint. “The threat from the PG&E explosion for San Bruno continues today” as residents are “contaminated by debris, ash, toxins, and other chemicals.”

Federal investigators are seeking to determine the cause of the explosion and fire that destroyed 37 homes, and left a crater 72 feet (22 meters) long and 26 feet wide. A 28-foot section of the pipe was blown out of the ground about 100 feet from the crater, according to Christopher Hart, vice chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board.

A Sept. 17 complaint was filed in the same court by Steve Dare, a San Bruno resident who claims he suffered injury and damage due to the explosion. Both complaints seek class-action, or group, status.

‘Corrective Action’

PG&E is investigating claims in the suits, and will take “appropriate, corrective action” if any of the claims are valid, company spokeswoman Katie Romans said today in an interview. “Our focus remains on helping the San Bruno community recover from this tragedy.”

PG&E reviewed all calls from the neighborhood back to July 1 and found no complaints in the month before the blast, Chief Financial Officer Kent Harvey said on Sept. 28 during an investor conference. The utility responded to a gas leak complaint in the area on July 23 and fixed a small leak near a meter, Harvey said. It responded to another call on July 27 and found no leaks, he said.

The cases are DiTrapani v. PG&E Corp., CIV499291, and Dare v. Pacific Gas & Electric Co., CIV498932, California Superior Court, San Mateo County (Redwood City).

To contact the reporter on this story: Joel Rosenblatt in San Francisco at jrosenblatt@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David E. Rovella at drovella@bloomberg.net.

Press spacebar to pause and continue. Press esc to stop.

Bloomberg reserves the right to remove comments but is under no obligation to do so, or to explain individual moderation decisions.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.