Wildfire victims learn preliminary details of PG&E’s proposed multi-billion dollar settlement

Victims on the receiving end of PG&E's multi-billion dollar wildfire settlement are speaking out.

Some victims and their attorneys held a press briefing at the Hyatt Regency in Santa Rosa to give their opinions on the settlement.

Attorneys inked the deal with PG&E Friday, paving the way for thousands of wildfire victims to receive compensation.

Roughly 40 wildfire victims -- a small fraction of the 40,000 or so involved in the settlement -- heard first-hand details of the $13.5 billion settlement with San Francisco-based Pacific Gas & Electric Co.

"It's the largest mass tort settlement in the history of the country."

— James F. Frantz, The Frantz Law Group.

Attorneys representing more than 5,500 victims of North Bay wildfires from 2015 through 2018 gave more specifics on the deal and process.

Terry Rowan, who lost his home is the Tubbs Fire, had questions about payments and the process. 

"What's the criteria used? What's the time and what's the range of those payments? That's what I came to hear today," said Rowan.

Attorneys could not provide every detail, but say the funds will be distributed based on individual claims and managed by a third-party trustee.

"$6.75 billion in cash, $6.75 billion in stock will go into a trust fund trust fund, although that is established for all the victims," said attorney Richard K. Bridgford with Bridgford, Gleason & Artinian.

Denny Kat-Kuoy says he lost everything, including his home in the Tubbs fire, and was underinsured when the wildfire consumed his home.

"Right now I don't have any money to rebuild. Oh right, and I just hope that this money will come on time. I just finished the foundation basically," said Kat-Kuoy.

"We found there are underinsured amounts on structures, personal property. Emotional distress, that's a very significant element we believe," said Frantz.

But attorneys say the settlement isn't just about money.

It also includes provisions PG&E must follow in order to be eligible for any financial assistance in another disaster.

"Only if they are certified as safe and they follow those requirements on weather stations, undergrounding wires, inspections, and maintenance," said Frantz.

The deal took three years to put together, and if things go according to plan, attorneys say victims could start to recieve payments late next year.

"We're optimistic that going forward we're going to get a payout and we're going to do the best to get as much as we can for you," said Bridgford.

The settlement still has to be approved by a bankruptcy court, which attorneys say they hope to be a formality.

Most victims have already filed claims.

For those who haven't, the deadline has been extended until the end of 2019.