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SDG & E C LASS A CTION Update Guejito, Witch Creek and Rice Canyon Wildfires July, 2008
B RIEF H ISTORY OF SDG & E F ILINGS November 13, 2007Downing v. SDG & E Clark v. SDG & E Macaluso, Frantz, Keegan November 15, 2007Payne v. Sempra Baker, Keener & Nahra December 4, 2007Wood v. SDG & E December 10, 2007Waldon v. SDG & E April 11, 2008Malone v. SDG & E June 3, 2008Curtis v. SDG & E May © Community Assisting Recovery, Inc., CARe
W HAT IS THE SDG & E C LASS ? NOT A TYPICAL CLASS ACTION Bifurcated—separated into two phases Phase 1: “Cause and Origin” –END of actual class portion –SDG & E pays costs of Phase 1 Phase 2: Individual damages –No longer class action –SDG & E may pay costs of Phase 2 May © Community Assisting Recovery, Inc., CARe
W HAT DO YOU NEED TO DO ? Nothing, no need to rush into a lawsuit. You are automatically included in the class action. Continue to document your “fair market value” losses. Hire an attorney for Phase 2 to protect and help prove your damage issues. Statutes of limitation are two and three years on class action issues. May © Community Assisting Recovery, Inc., CARe
H OW LONG WILL THE CLASS TAKE ? CERTIFICATION: Several months Phase 1, CAUSE & ORIGIN: months Phase 2, PROOF of DAMAGES: years May © Community Assisting Recovery, Inc., CARe
S OME C LASS A CTION A TTORNEYS ENGSTROM, LIPSCOMB & LACK Jerry Ramsey Brian Heffernan BAKER, KEENER & NAHRA Robert Baker R. Jeffrey Neer GIRARDI & KEESE May © Community Assisting Recovery, Inc., CARe
G IRARDI & K EESE May © Community Assisting Recovery, Inc., CARe
B AKER, K EENER & N AHRA May © Community Assisting Recovery, Inc., CARe
E NGSTROM, L IPSCOMB & L ACK May © Community Assisting Recovery, Inc., CARe
H OW ARE A TTORNEYS ’ F EES P AID ? No cost for class members Court decides if SDG & E pays: Direct costs Fair and reasonable attorney fees Fire victims pay no fees or costs If unsuccessful, attorneys absorb cost No “pool” of funds to be shared May © Community Assisting Recovery, Inc., CARe
C LASS A CTION G OALS Prove SDG & E’s negligence Cause of the 2007 wildfires –Guejito –Witch Creek –Rice Canyon Protect interests of fire victims from –Sempra Energy, SDG & E –Quinn Emanuel, SDG & E’s defense firm May © Community Assisting Recovery, Inc., CARe
W HAT I SSUES TO BE R ESOLVED ? Phase 1 Cause of the 2007 wildfires –Guejito –Witch Creek –Rice Canyon Origin of the 2007 wildfires SDG & E’s negligence SDG & E’s trespass, other torts May © Community Assisting Recovery, Inc., CARe
SDG & E D EFENSE A TTORNEYS Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hodges, LLP 865 Figueroa Street, 10 th Floor Los Angeles, California from May © Community Assisting Recovery, Inc., CARe
SDG & E A TTORNEYS SDG & E hired Quinn Emanuel, Los Angeles “Top Guns” Over 350 lawyers Largest business law firm in US Extremely aggressive “Open Checkbook” to protect client See website: May © Community Assisting Recovery, Inc., CARe
I NDIVIDUAL “T ORT ” L AWSUITS Fire victim depositions Fire victim interrogatories Legal fees up to 40% Increased expert costs Increased stress Added incentive for Quinn Emanuel to impose all discovery tactics May © Community Assisting Recovery, Inc., CARe
D EPOSITION AND D ISCOVERY Class action: Individual “class members” will NOT be deposed Class “representatives” subject to discovery and depositions Individual lawsuit: Each plaintiff CAN be deposed Spouse, friends, relatives CAN be deposed May © Community Assisting Recovery, Inc., CARe
R ESOURCES R EQUIRED To take on SDG & E and Quinn Emanuel: Experienced attorneys –Class actions –Against SDG & E Substantial in-house funding Substantial in-house specialist lawyers to handle discovery issues May © Community Assisting Recovery, Inc., CARe
W HY L OS A NGELES L AW F IRMS ? Largest and most experienced law firms in Los Angeles Won $1.8+ billion award against SDG & E in 2007 SDG & E is using a major Los Angeles law firm May © Community Assisting Recovery, Inc., CARe
H OW WILL YOU BE I NCLUDED ? Automatic inclusion Need to do nothing to stay in class Court, through media, will keep you informed If you or your attorney “opts” you out of the class, you can never return to the class May © Community Assisting Recovery, Inc., CARe
H OW WILL YOU BE N OTIFIED OF C LASS ? Court will notify CARe will updates CARe will have meetings Newspaper announcements Other media announcements May © Community Assisting Recovery, Inc., CARe
W HAT H APPENS AFTER P HASE 1? Present documented loss to court. Most likely need an attorney at that point May © Community Assisting Recovery, Inc., CARe
W HAT I SSUES TO BE R ESOLVED ? Phase 2 Like a brand new trial Your loss –Actual damages –Emotional distress –Punitive damages May © Community Assisting Recovery, Inc., CARe
P ROVE Y OUR I NDIVIDUAL L OSS Continue to collect your documents –Fair market value –Obtain receipts –Obtain photos Best to have class action lawyers Some people want lawyers now May © Community Assisting Recovery, Inc., CARe
W HAT Y OU N EED TO K NOW Class action in two phases: 1.“Cause and Origin” 2.Proof of individual damages Class action NOT to distribute money Class action NOT like a Vioxx award SDG & E pays legal costs in Class action Class members will NOT be deposed May © Community Assisting Recovery, Inc., CARe
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