The California Second District Court of Appeal unanimously ruled that victims harmed by SoCalGas’ three-day delay in reporting the Porter Ranch gas leak are entitled to receive criminal restitution. The case goes back to the trial court where victims will have an opportunity to present evidence of damages suffered because of SoCalGas’ delay in reporting the blowout. Acting Presiding Justice, Elizabeth A. Grimes issued the ruling earlier today; no date has been set as to when the case will be heard before the trial court. READ THE APPELLATE COURT OPINION
“This is a very important victory for our clients as it allows them to present their losses to the trial court,” said attorney Brian Panish of Panish Shea & Boyle LLP. “SoCalGas pleaded no contest to failing to report the gas leak. It is only right that victims receive restitution to the crime SoCalGas is guilty of committing,” said attorney R. Rex Parris of PARRIS Law Firm.
The Court ruled “there was enough confusion about the scope of the sentencing hearing to warrant a new hearing on the issue of restitution only for damages occasioned by the three-day delay in reporting the leak.”
The decision also stated “because the scope of the restitution hearing was not settled in advance, we believe it fair (and within the spirit of Marsy’s Law) to remand for a further hearing to determine what, if any, damages were caused only by the three-day delay in reporting the leak to the proper authorities.”
This Appellate Court ruling comes on the heels of last week’s July 3 decision to set a June 24, 2020 trial date for the first wave of civil lawsuits against Sempra and SoCalGas.