SoCalGas

If you have experienced illness or injury, sustained property value losses, or business losses as a result of the Aliso Canyon gas leak, you may be eligible for compensation.

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RECENT NEWS

July 25, 2016 – A master complaint is filed by attorneys representing affected residents with individual cases.  It is expected for SoCalGas to respond to the complaint in September.

July 20, 2016 – Our attorneys participated in a case management conference before Judge Wiley. At that time, Judge Wiley lifted a stay on discovery which now allows attorneys for the claimants affected by the gas leak and representatives for SoCalGas to gather and exchange documents and other evidence and information.

March 4, 2016 – Judge Emilie Elias granted a petition to coordinate dozens of Porter Ranch Gas Leak lawsuits filed before one judge. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge John Shephard Wiley, Jr. has been appointed as the coordination trial judge.

 

HEALTH EFFECTS

According to the Los Angeles Department of Public Health, emissions from the Aliso Canyon well caused health effects such as nosebleeds and dizziness in residents of Porter Ranch and the surrounding areas.

Natural gas consists of methane and an odorant called Scentinel T-50, a chemical compound that gives natural gas its characteristic rotten-egg, garlicky, or skunk-like odor. According to the National Institute of Health’s Toxicology Data Network, the t-butyl mercaptan found in Scentinel T-50 can cause muscular weakness, malaise, headache, and nausea. High concentrations may cause acute lung injury and unconsciousness.

Other Chemicals May Cause Significant Long-Term Health Effects

Natural gas also contains small amounts of other chemicals, such as hydrogen sulfide, sulfur dioxide, benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene, and xylene. According to the Department of Public Health, these chemicals can produce “significant long-term health effects” as the duration of exposure increases.

Tests conducted by the South Coast Air Quality Management District showed that levels of benzene, a known carcinogen, were eight times the regional average in October 2015. In early 2015, the Associated Press reported that SoCalGas understated the level of benzene exposure on its website before they later admitted that elevated benzene readings had been found at least 14 times. According to the World Health Organization, no safe level of exposure to benzene can be recommended.

SoCalGas Reportedly Understates Levels of Hydrogen-Sulfide

Similarly, the Los Angeles Times reported that SoCalGas understated the levels of hazardous sulfur compounds in the air in Porter Ranch and surrounding areas, characterizing them as “intermittent, very low” and below state standards. According to the report, hydrogen sulfide had been released during SoCalGas’s early attempts to stop the well, and tests found hydrogen sulfide levels of 183 parts per billion — six times the state standard.

According to OSHA, hydrogen sulfide can cause eye, nose, throat, and respiratory irritation and prolonged exposure can cause eye inflammation, headache, fatigue, irritability, insomnia, and weight loss.

BUSINESS INTERRUPTION

According to news articles, as a result of the Porter Ranch gas leak, businesses like Elli Boutique claimed that their numbers are significantly down, while Wine & Spirits of the World asserted that their shop has been nearly empty since November, barely able to make ends meet. For some businesses, like Dance Dance Dance Studio, even losing one regular customer could have far-reaching ramifications.

Many other businesses in Porter Ranch and the surrounding areas closed their doors to stem the loss of money during this disaster, while businesses who remained open had to face the end of the year, generally the busiest and most profitable for retailers, while operating in a de facto ghost town.

 

WHAT IS BUSINESS INTERRUPTION AND BUSINESS INTERRUPTION INSURANCE?

Business interruption occurs when a natural disaster results in monetary loss for a business, including profits that would have been earned and operating costs and other expenses the business is still incurring.

If a company has business interruption insurance, these losses would be covered by that policy. The purpose of such insurance is to ensure a business remains in the same financial position regardless of a natural disaster.

 

FAQ

Q:  Could the gas leak exacerbate underlying health conditions, such as COPD, asthma, emphysema, etc.?

A:  Yes. If you have pre-existing health concerns, it is important to let your attorney know. Understanding all underlying health conditions is critical to litigating your individual case effectively, so that you may receive compensation for all new injuries, as well as for the exacerbation of any pre-existing health issues.

Q:  How do I know if my home falls within the affected region?

A:  People are reporting the smell of gas miles away from the Aliso Canyon well. The areas which have been impacted and the extent of the impact has not been determined yet. Speak to one of our attorneys for more information about your area.

Q:  Can I still be part of the lawsuit even though I might have to relocate away from Porter Ranch?

A:  Yes, you can still be part of the lawsuit.

Q:  Do I waive my rights to a lawsuit in the future if I fill out a SoCalGas claims form or if I accept the reimbursement package for relocation or food?

A:  No, you do not waive your rights. We suggest having your attorney review any documents requiring your signature prior to signing.

Q:  Should I go to the doctor/physician?

A:   If you are suffering medical issues, you should consult with your health care provider. You should hold onto your records as they might be important to your potential claim.

Q:  Do you have any local offices where that we could meet and speak with attorneys?

A:  We have a Los Angeles office where you can meet and speak with us.

Q:  Do we have to continue paying our children’s tuition if they are not going to school? 

A:  You must consult with your child’s school to determine your responsibility for tuition payments. Tuition costs when your child cannot attend school may be recoverable through a lawsuit. We recommend saving any documents reflecting out-of-pocket costs associated with the gas leak.

Q:  What is the timeline for a lawsuit?

A:  Resolution of a lawsuit depends on a number of factors, including defendants’ response to the lawsuit, the court, and a jury. The outcome of the lawsuit cannot be predicted at this time. Some cases resolve within a few months of filing and others can last up to ten years.

Q:  Who are the defendants?

A:  The defendants are Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) and its parent company, Sempra Energy.

Q:  How long has the gas leak been going on?

A: SoCalGas disclosed the existence of a gas leak at its Aliso Canyon facility on October 23. 2015. At this time, we do not know if natural gas was emanating from the source prior to the company’s announcement.

Q:  If I own property in Porter Ranch or the surrounding affected areas but do not live there, do I still have a claim against SoCalGas?

A:  Yes, you may have a claim for a reduction in the value of the property you own in Porter Ranch or the surrounding areas, even if you don’t live there.