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A Bankruptcy Judge Just Approved PG&E’s $13.5 Billion Settlement With Fire Victims

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Carolyn Cole/TNS/Zuma

Late Tuesday, US Bankruptcy Court Judge Dennis Montali approved a long-awaited settlement between PG&E and fire victims after a six-hour hearing, marking a significant step forward in the company’s quest to emerge from bankruptcy. The decision follows two weeks of twists and eleventh-hour surprises.

In early December, PG&E shareholders reached a $13.5 billion agreement with fire victims’ lawyers after months of negotiating (half paid out in stocks in the reorganized utility) to settle claims from the devastating 2018 and 2017 California wildfires as well as the Ghost Ship Fire and the 2015 Butte Fire. In exchange, victims’ lawyers would support the PG&E plan to exit bankruptcy. The deal gave shareholders further hope they’d emerge from bankruptcy in control of the utility, as long as the governor signed off—a stipulation of the settlement.

But late Friday, California Governor Gavin Newsom rejected the deal, despite the politically risky optics of slowing the bankruptcy proceedings and potentially delaying victim payouts. Newsom has been deeply critical of the utility, accusing them of “greed and mismanagement over........

© Mother Jones