wrongful death complaint - mathes v pge - filed
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DESCRIPTIONButte Fire Complaint
Dario de Ghetaldi - Bar No. 126782 Amanda L. Riddle - Bar No. 215221 Clare Capaceioli Velasquez - Bar No. 290466 COREY, LUZAICH, DE GHETALD!, NASTARJ & RIDDLE LLP 700 EI Camino Real OCT 2 6Z015
CLERK OF THE COURy P.O. Box 669 Millbrae, California 94030-0669 Telephone: (650) 871-5666 Facsunile: (650} 871-4144 email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael S. Danko Bar No. 1I1359 Kristine K. Meredith Bar No. 158243 DANKO MEREDITH 333 Twin Dolphin Drive, Suite 145 Redwood Shores, CA 94065 Telephone: (650) 453-3600 Facsimile: (650) 394-8672 email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
DY;_ BOWMAN t.IU ocpwy (.'Jerk -
Attorneys for Plaintiffs Stephanie Mathes and Karen Goldsmith
SUPERJOR COURT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO
STEPHANIE MATHES and KAREN } GOLDSMITH, individually and as ) Successors-in-Interest to the Estate of OWEN ) GOLDSMITH, deceased, and STEPHANIE } MATHES, as representative of the Estate of } OWEN GOLDSMITH, deceased, )
Plaintiffs, l vs.
PG&E CORPORATION, a California Corporation, PACIFIC GAS & ELECTRIC COMPANY, a California Corporation, ACRT, Inc., a Corporation, TREES, INC., a Corporation, and DOES 1-50, inclusive,
~ } ~ ) ) ) } } ~~~~~~~~~~~~~}
CGC-15-548619 CASE NO. COMPLAINT FOR:
1. NEGLIGENCE: WRONGFUL DEATH
2. STRICT LIABILITY: WRONGFUL DEATH
3. SURVIVAL ACTION
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Plaintiffs STEPHANIE MATHES and KAREN GOLDSMITH, individually and as
Successors-in-Interest to the Estate of OWEN GOLDSMITH, deceased, and STEPHANIE
MATHES, as representative of the Estate of OWEN GOLDSMITII, deceased, bring this action
for damages against Defendants PG&E CORPORATION, a California Corporation, PACIFIC
GAS & ELECTRIC COMPANY, a California Corporation (collectively "PG&E"), a
Corporation, ACRT, INC., TREES, INC., a Corporation, and DOES 1-50, inclusive, as follows:
1. PG&E has a long history of failing to maintain its infrastructure and making poor
decisions that result in safety lapses. These safety lapses have led to disasters that result in
wrongful death, personal injury, and destruction of property. In this case, PG&E failed to properly inspect its electrical lines and maintain the surrounding vegetation, by its own acts or
through the acts of its agents. As a result, on the afternoon of September 9, 2015, a tree struck a
12,000-volt PG&E power line on Butte Mountain Road, in Jackson, California. Sparks flew and
ignited what has since been named "The Butte Fire."
2. Over the next week, the Butte Fire spread rapidly, causing extensive damage
within Amador and Calaveras Counties. Over 4,000 firefighters battled the blaze. The fire was
not reported contained until October 1, 2015. The Butte Fire burned more than 70,000 acres,
destroying and damaging 475 residences, 343 outbuildings, and 45 other structures. The fire also
left tens of thousands of dead or dying trees, and the risk of water pollution and erosion in its
wake. Two people lost their lives as a result of the Butte Fire and thousands of residents and
property owners were significantly burdened.
3. One of those residents was Owen Goldsmith. Owen Goldsmith was found in his
home by firefighters on September 15, 2015, having perished in the Butte Fire. At the time of his
death, Owen Goldsmith, 82, lived in the home he owned in Mountain Ranch, Calaveras County.
Born in Borger, Texas, Owen Goldsmith served as a staff sergeant in the United States Air Force
from 1951 to 1955. He went on to graduate magna cum laude in music at then~San Francisco
State College and got his master's degree in music from the college in 1965. Owen Goldsmith
was a prolific music composer, having taught choir and orchestra to high school and college
students. Mr. Goldsmith had two beloved daughters: Plaintiffs Stephanie Mathes and Karen
4. In this ease, PG&E and its agents ACRT, Inc., and Trees, Inc., negligently
maintained and operated its electrical infrastructure, and failed to maintain the surrounding
vegetation within the applicable regulations and law. As a result, hundreds of residents lost their
homes, Owen Goldsmith lost his life, and Plaintiffs Stephanie Mathes and Karen Goldsmith lost
II. JURISDICTION AND VENUE
5. This Court has personal jurisdiction over Defendants. PG&E Corporation and Pacific Gas & Electric Company are incorporated in California and have and continue to do
significant business in California so as to render the exercise of jurisdiction over it by the California courts consistent with traditional notions of fairness and substantial justice. Defendant ACRT, Inc., is a privately owned corporation conducting business in California as a utility
vegetation management contractor. Defendant Trees, Inc., is a privately owned corporation
conducting business in California as a tree maintenance corporation for utility companies. In
addition, a substantial part of the events that caused Plaintiffs' injuries occurred in the County of San Francisco, within the State of California.
6. The amount of controversy exceeds the jurisdictional minimum of this Court. 7. Venue is proper in this County as Defendants perform business in this County,
with at least two of them having their principal plaee of business in this County, and a substantial
part of the events, acts, omissions, and transactions complained of herein occurred in this
III. THE PARTIES
8. Plaintiff Stephanie Mathes is the loving daughter of Owen Goldsmith. She brings
certain claims herein, specified below, as the natural daughter of Owen Goldsmith, pursuant to
Code of Civil Procedure 377.60. Additionally, on October 26, 2015, Plaintiff Stephanie
Mathes filed with the Superior Court of California, County of Calaveras, the Estate of Owen
Goldsmith. In the filing, Plaintiff Stephanie Mathes seeks to have the Court appoint her as the
administrator of the Estate of Owen Goldsmith. She is thus lawfully entitled to pursue all claims
2 and causes of action for damages, loss, or destruction of assets of the Estate pursuant to Code of
3 Civil Procedure 377.30. 4 9. Plaintiff Karen Goldsmith is the loving daughter of Owen Goldsmith. She brings
5 certain claims herein, specified below, as the natural daughter of Owen Goldsmith, pursuant to
6 Code of Civil Procedure 377.60.
7 I 0. Owen Goldsmith was the natural father of Plaintiffs Stephanie ~athes and Karen
8 Goldsmith. At the time of his death, he owned and occupied 6003 Eagle View Drive, Mountain
9 Ranch, California.'
10 IL Defendant PG&E Corporation, is incorporated in California and based in San
11 Francisco, California. At all times mentioned herein, it has acted to provide electrical services to
12 members of the public in California, including, Amador and Calaveras Counties.
13 12. Defendant Pacific Gas & Electric Company, a subsidiary corporation of PG&E
14 Corporation, is incorporated in California and based in San Francisco, California. It is one of the
15 largest combination natural gas and electric utilities in the United States. At all times herein
16 mentioned, Pacific Gas & Electric Company provided electric service to millions of customers in
17 Northern and Central California, including to the residents of Amador and Calaveras Counties,
18 through its electric transmission and distribution systems.
19 13. Defendant ACRT, Inc., is utility vegetation management company, doing business
20 all over the United States. Plaintiffs are informed and believe that at all times mentioned herein,
21 ACRT, Inc., was the agent of PG&E and acting within the course and scope of that agency.
22 14. Defendant Trees, Inc., is one of the largest utility vegetation management service
23 companies in the United States. Plaintiffs are informed and believe that at all times mentioned
24 herein, Trees, Inc., was the agent of PG&E and acting within the course and scope of that agency.
25 15. The true names and capacities, whether individual, corporate, associate or
26 otherwise of1he Defendants sued herein as DOES 1 through 50 are unknown to Plaintiffs who
28 1 As of September 9, 201 the property was held by Owen L. Goldsmith, Trustee of the Owen L. Goldsmith Trust, dated May 3, 1996.
therefore sue said Defendants by such fictitious names. Plaintiffs will amend this complaint to
2 show their true names and capacities when the same are ascertai