Obtained full compensation from PG&E for 8 families who lost
all of their possessions in a natural gas explosion at an apartment
complex in Santa Clara in January 1997. PG&E's gas regulator
was defective and allowed natural gas to leak during a tent termite
fumigation. A spark from a fan ignited the gas and the resulting
explosion destroyed much of a city block. PG&E refused to accept
responsibility and insisted that the fumigator was totally responsible.
PG&E turned the victims out in the streets with no home, no
clothes and no possessions. Mr. Collins was able to show that PG&E
knew for years before the explosion that it had thousands of defective
regulators that urgently needed to be replaced. Mr. Collins was
able to show that PG&E obtained a $100 million rate increase
from the California Public Utilities Commission to replace the defective
regulators. The utility accepted the money from the public but failed
to complete the replacement program. After securing the funds which
were to have been spent on the regulator replacement program, the
utility willfully concealed the fact that they did not complete
the program. After Mr. Collins brought this information to public
light, PG&E made full restitution to each displaced family.
(The amount of the settlement is protected from disclosure by a
confidentiality agreement) Subsequent to this litigation and as
a result of our disclosure of the facts, the Public Utility Commission
imposed a $1 million penalty against PG&E.