$4 million settlement ends LA County criminal suit against SoCalGas

Daily Journal
September 14, 2016

Richard Bridgford was interviewed for an article in the Daily Journal about the $4 million settlement between Southern California Gas Co. and the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office after the Gas Co. admitted to delays in reporting the gas leak that affected the Porter Ranch community.

Since the company pleaded to a misdemeanor, the settlement will not affect the more than 100 coordinated civil cases pending in state court alleging health problems and devalued homes due to the leak.

Bridgford, one of the plaintiff attorneys quoted, said the agreement will have no bearing on the many civil cases pending in state court. 

“Unless it is a felony, it isn’t admissible in the civil case,” said Bridgford, who is not involved in the Porter Ranch litigation. 

“In isolation it’s not a significant fine but they should be held accountable in a civil court of law to the individual homeowners,” he said.  Bridgford added that knowledge of the criminal settlement could affect a potential jury pool.

The gas company pleaded no contest to failure to immediately report the gas leak that occurred at its Aliso Canyon facility last October, which displaced roughly 2,000 households and resulted in a number of reported health hazards.

As a result of the guilty plea, SoCalGas must install methane leak monitoring devices at the Aliso Canyon location at a cost of $1.2 million to $1.5 million.