Wednesday, September 29, 2021
In 2015, fumes from a failing natural gas storage well were released into the mountains above the San Fernando Valley, sickening people with nausea, headaches, and nosebleeds. On Monday, SoCal Gas announced agreements to pay up to $1.8B to settle litigation over the leak. The first agreement requires around 97% participation from approximately 36,000 plaintiffs and court approval of how the money will be distributed. Second and third agreements involve separate settlements and dismissing named plaintiffs in a business class action, both of which are subject to court approval. Plaintiffs' attorneys spoke from the steps of the Los Angeles federal courthouse:
“There was no plan when the well blew up on what to do,” said attorney Brian Panish. “Because of those failures, these people suffered. We’re thankful we can do our best to offer fair and just compensation.”
Panish said that affected residents gave depositions by Zoom during the pandemic and that some still living in the area believe that the storage field, which is active, should be shut down.
But he said that the settlement shows that the gas company has taken some responsibility.
“It sends a loud message about what had happened — people were justified in their complaints,” he said.
Gregory Yee, Tony Barboza, and Leila Miller of the LA Times have the story (behind a paywall).