Court rules corporations can be on hook for costs of fighting California fires

  • Source: San Francisco Chronicle - Metered Site
  • Published: 11/19/2019 12:00 AM

Corporations can be held legally responsible for the state’s costs in investigating and fighting fires that are carelessly started or spread by corporate employees, a state appeals court ruled Monday. There has been no dispute that corporations can be required to pay compensation for deaths, injuries and property damage from fires caused by their employees, the source of at least $18 billion of the debt that drove Pacific Gas and Electric Co. into bankruptcy. But corporate responsibility for the state’s firefighting expenses is a separate issue governed by state laws, whose meaning is a subject of disagreement among appellate courts. A state appeals court in Sacramento ruled in 2017 that the laws did not authorize the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or CalFire, to recover costs from corporations whose employees may have negligently caused wildfires.


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