Shareholder John Fiske testifies on inverse condemnation, urges
Senate to maintain constitutional protection for property owners,
Today, the national law firm of Baron
& Budd announced that its shareholder, John
Fiske, testified before the California State Legislature to denounce
Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to eliminate the constitutional rights
provided to fire victims through inverse condemnation. Inverse
condemnation is the constitutional, no fault cause of action that helps
facilitate efficient resolution in the aftermath of utility-caused
wildfires. The State
Conference Committee heard testimony today on S.B.
901, to address wildfire preparedness and response.
According to Fiske’s testimony, the Governor’s proposed changes to
inverse condemnation have a direct impact on thousands of wildfire
survivors, including hundreds of business owners, ranchers, farmers, and
the 7,000 families who lost their homes because it will deny these
victims of their constitutional rights to just compensation and a jury
trial against the power companies who are allegedly responsible for
causing the 2017 fires throughout the state.
“We strongly urge this committee to focus its efforts on prevention and
public safety. If this committee believes that securitization is an
option, or that pass through requires clarification, we are prepared to
assist in that conversation,” said Fiske. “But we cannot support any
package that removes the constitutional protection for homeowners,
businesses, ranchers, farmers, and public entities.”
After presenting prepared remarks, Fiske engaged in a Q&A session with
Senate Committee members, including Sen. Ben Hueso (D-San Diego), who
questioned if the wildfires were caused by climate change. Fiske quickly
retorted, “I think we’re here today at this hearing because PG&E is
asking for some sort of bailout.”
In recent months, corporate executives from Pacific Gas & Electric
(PG&E) and Southern California Edison (SCE) lobbied the Governor and
California State Legislature to limit fire victims’ ability to receive
compensation for damages cause by the 2017 fires. PG&E spent
$2.2 million on lobbying in 2018—triple the amount of what it
spent in the first half of 2017. Between April and June 2018, PG&E
reported spending $1.1 million specifically on lobbying for wildfire
Baron & Budd represent thousands of fire victims including hundreds of
business owners, ranchers, farmers and approximately 25 public entities.
Earlier this year, the firm successfully petitioned the Judicial Council
of California for a Judicial Council Coordinated Proceeding (“JCCP”) to coordinate
all cases against Southern California Edison arising from the 2017
Thomas and Rye Fires and to separately coordinate
all cases against PG&E arising from the 2017 North Bay Fires.
ABOUT BARON & BUDD, P.C.
The law firm of Baron & Budd, P.C., with offices in Dallas, Baton Rouge,
New Orleans, Austin, Los Angeles, and San Diego, is a nationally
recognized law firm with a nearly 40-year history of "Protecting What's
Right" for people, communities and businesses harmed by negligence.
Baron & Budd's size and resources enable the firm to take on large and
complex cases. The firm represents individuals and government and
business entities in areas as diverse as dangerous pharmaceuticals and
medical devices, environmental contamination, the Gulf oil spill,
financial fraud, overtime violations, deceptive advertising, automotive
defects, trucking accidents, nursing home abuse, and asbestos-related
illnesses such as mesothelioma.
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Baron & Budd, P.C.Monica Cordova, 214-523-6633