Singleton Schreiber McKenzie & Scott, LLP (SSMS), a leading California fire litigation law firm, has filed a multi-count lawsuit against the Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) power company on behalf of 18 victims of the Zogg Fire that broke out last September in Shasta County. Today, SSMS announced that it filed an updated complaint based on the recent announcement by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) that it “has determined that the Zogg Fire was caused by a pine tree contacting electrical transmission lines owned and operated by PG&E located north of the community of Igo.” PG&E has previously stated that the pine tree that caused the fire may have been identified for removal — but not actually removed — during restoration efforts following the Carr Fire in 2018. Cal Fire has forwarded its report to the Shasta County District Attorney’s Office.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed by SSMS are homeowners, renters, business owners, and other individuals and entities whose property and lives were, literally and figuratively, destroyed by the Zogg Fire. Cal Fire has reported that the Zogg Fire ignited around 4:03 p.m. on September 27, 2020, near Zogg Mine Road and Jenny Bird Lane, north of Igo and west of Redding in Shasta County. The Zogg Fire burned more than 56,338 acres in Shasta and Tehama counties, 204 structures were destroyed, 27 structures were damaged, one person was injured, and four people were killed by the fire.
The lawsuit filed by SSMS alleges that PG&E negligently, recklessly, and willfully failed to safely inspect, maintain, and operate its electrical equipment and failed to maintain appropriate clearances around vegetation in the area. According to the lawsuit, PG&E had already reported that its equipment was involved in the ignition of the Zogg Fire.
“The conditions and circumstances surrounding the ignition of the Zogg Fire, including the nature and condition of PG&E’s electrical infrastructure, low humidity, strong winds, and tinder-like dry vegetation were foreseeable by any reasonably prudent person,” said Gerald Singleton, the founding partner of SSMS and one of the most experienced fire attorneys in California. “The fire caused substantial damage to real estate and personal property, including many cherished possessions.”
The lawsuit states that plaintiffs each seek damages to be determined, on an individual basis, as well as punitive damages because PG&E has “deliberately, and repeatedly, prioritized profits over safety and this history of recklessness and conscious disregard was a substantial factor in bringing about the Zogg Fire.”
Singleton Schreiber McKenzie & Scott, LLP, has over 100 employees and has offices throughout California. In the past two decades, the firm has represented more than 10,000 victims of utility fires, in multiple states, and has recovered approximately $1 billion in settlements and verdicts for its clients. The firm currently represents thousands of victims of the 2020 Mountain View and Zogg Fires, the 2019 Kincade Fire, the 2018 Woolsey and Camp Fires, the 2017 Thomas and North Bay Fires, and the 2015 Butte Fire.