Report: Bankruptcy legal costs reach $84 million for PG&E

Photo Credit: David Tran Photo/Shutterstock.com as originally reported by The Recorder.

Legal costs associated with Northern California wildfires and a natural gas explosion total $84 million, based on a January bankruptcy filing, according to court filings reviewed by The Recorder.

“Four outside law firms have billed Pacific Gas and Electric Co. at least $84 million for legal services related to the company’s January bankruptcy filing,” the April 2 article at law.com reports. “The utility company disclosed its legal spend in a series of court filings last month, as it sought approval from U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Montali to continue employing the law firms.”

PG&E listed more than $50 billion in estimated liabilities, the article notes.

“PG&E has hired Chicago-based Jenner & Block as special corporate defense counsel for state and federal regulatory matters during the Chapter 11 proceedings,” The Recorder reports. “Jenner & Block is also handling a criminal case involving PG&E, connected to a natural gas explosion that occurred in the city of San Bruno, California, in September 2010. According to the March 15 court filing, PG&E has paid the firm $3.57 million during the year leading up to the Chapter 11 filing. San Francisco based Keller & Benvenutti is also representing PG&E in bankruptcy court. Since May 2018, the firm has advised PG&E on legal and financial matters regarding potential liabilities resulting from 2017 and 2018 Northern California wildfires.”

 

Yahoo data-breach settlement filed for $117.5 million

A class action settlement for $117.5 million has been filed following data breaches affecting billions of Yahoo accounts.

The Recorder at law.com reports on the $117.5 million settlement, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California after a federal judge rejected an earlier preliminary approval.

The settlement, filed Tuesday with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, includes a single fund from which $55 million would be available for out-of-pocket costs and $24 million in identity theft protection for class members (or $100 payments to those who already have credit monitoring),” The Recorder reported on April 9. “It also includes $30 million in attorney fees and $2.5 million in legal costs, a slight reduction from the original fee request.”

Data breaches in 2013 and 2014 accounted for more than 3 billion accounts that were hacked, according to Yahoo. Defendants include Altaba Inc., the division of Verizon formerly known as Yahoo.

Does a New Breed of Pilot Error … Fighting Automation to the Ground … Need a New Kind of Pilot?

Photo originally published in CityWatch LA, 4/11/19.

By Sara Corcoran, Courts Monitor Publisher

Statistically speaking, traveling by plane is the safest mode of transportation. However, when there’s a system challenge in flight, a pilot’s ability to quickly identify and respond to the issue can often be the difference between life and death.

Mid-air accidents are much more often than not the result of pilot error, and it is expected that the global aviation community will reaffirm the safety of the 737 MAX 8.

A similar pattern of malfunctioning controls that automated unsolicited nose pitches while in flight occurred with Airbus back in 2008. Qantas flight 72 serves as a good case study on how pilots should respond when faced with what has become a catastrophic situation for others. Read more

Lawsuits pile up against Purdue Pharma, other drug companies over OxyContin

Photograph: Jessica Hill/AP, published in a report by The Guardian on 3/28/19.

Amid hints of a pending bankruptcy filing, officials are weighing their options in a mounting legal push against Purdue Pharma, manufacturer of the narcotic prescription painkiller, OxyContin.

Oklahoma settled for $270 million with Purdue and the company’s owners, the Sackler family, The Guardian reports. Oklahoma’s attorney general, Mike Hunter, feared that the state might be left unable to collect if the company filed for bankruptcy, according to the publication.

“The $75m payment by members of the Sackler family, as part of the $270m, was a first,” The Guardian notes, “the first time the family has directly contributed toward addressing the consequences of the opioid epidemic.”

“The Oklahoma settlement is a foretaste of a barrage of civil lawsuits in the pipeline against not only Purdue but dozens of drug manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies as cities and states seek billions of dollars from those they blame for the biggest drug epidemic in US history,” The Guardian reports.

HUD brings charges of housing discrimination against Facebook

Dr. Ben Carson, United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Photo credit: hud.gov.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has announced a charge against Facebook, alleging the tech giant violated the Fair Housing Act “by encouraging, enabling, and causing housing discrimination through the company’s advertising platform.”

In a recent press release, the agency previewed its case. “Today’s action follows HUD’s investigation of a Secretary-initiated complaint filed on August 13, 2018…HUD alleges that Facebook unlawfully discriminates based on race, color, national origin, religion, familial status, sex, and disability by restricting who can view housing-related ads on Facebook’s platforms and across the internet. Further, HUD claims Facebook mines extensive data about its users and then uses those data to determine which of its users view housing-related ads based, in part, on these protected characteristics.”

The Washington Post reports that HUD also “alerted Twitter and Google last year that it was scrutinizing their practices for possible housing discrimination.”

The New York Times reports that Facebook officials voiced surprise:

“Facebook, which HUD said controlled about 20 percent of the online advertising in the United States, appeared to be taken aback by the suit.”