Administrative Law

State lawyers may have stepped aside after disagreement over $2B fine sought in fatal gas fire

After news earlier this week of the reassignment of four leading lawyers who had worked for nearly three years on a California administrative case over a fatal 2010 gas explosion and fire in San Bruno, follow-up reports say they may have sought to be taken off the case over disagreement about how Pacific Gas and Electric Co. should be penalized.

A spokeswoman for the California Public Utilities Commission said the four had requested reassignment, and in-house lawyer Robert Cagen, who had been working on the case for the CPUC’s Consumer Protection and Safety Division said in an email to KQED that this was because there was disagreement over the handling of the case.

“I personally could not continue working on the San Bruno penalty briefs because I concluded that the CPSD recommendations that were to be made in the briefs were unlawful and contrary to what our team had worked to accomplish in the last two and a half years,” Cagen wrote.

A CPUC website provides a link to the May 24 remedies brief (PDF) filed by the gas company that reportedly may have been at issue in the dispute, as well as other filings in the administrative case.

See also “State legal team seeking $2B fine in fatal gas fire is reassigned; city calls for AG probe”

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