Counsel for thousands of Porter Ranch Gas Well Blowout victims will appear in Santa Clarita court on Tuesday morning in an attempt to quash a plea agreement between the Los Angeles District Attorney and Southern California Gas Company. The victims assert that the court’s approval of the plea bargain between the two parties in the criminal case will violate the victims’ right to restitution as guaranteed by state law.
On October 18, 2016, attorneys for the victims filed a petition with the court to set aside the plea agreement, stating the plea violates both the California State Constitution and the California Penal Code in that it does not require a probation report which would have resulted in notice to the victims and an opportunity to submit a claim for restitution. Under the plea agreement, SoCalGas pleaded no contest to one misdemeanor count of failing to immediately notify the California Office of Emergency Services and the Los Angeles County Fire Department following the Aliso Canyon Gas Well Blowout. The remaining three misdemeanor charges against SoCalGas are to be dismissed at the sentencing hearing on November 29 hearing per the parties’ agreement.
Before the court accepts the plea agreement or sentences the gas company, attorneys for the victims will seek to have the plea withdrawn and request a restitution hearing to consider the victims’ significant economic losses as a result of the largest methane leak in American history.
Panish Shea & Boyle LLP founding partner Brian Panish and attorney R. Rex Parris with the Parris Law Firm will address the matter at a news conference immediately following the hearing.
For a copy of the petition, click here
For a copy of the exhibits, click here