Wildfires in California: Head of PG&E Fire Victim Trust resigns due to delayed payments

Sacramento, California. The head of a fund set up to pay billions of dollars to victims of wildfires caused by Pacific Gas & Electric equipment is resigning even as payments continue to be delayed.

John Trotter, a former California Court of Appeals judge, announced Tuesday that he is stepping down as trustee of the PG&E Fire Victim Trust effective June 30.

Trotter has led the foundation since it was founded in 2020 and said he promised his family he would step down in two years. Cathy Yanni, who served as the fund’s claims administrator, will become the new trustee.

“Over the past two years, we have devoted our full attention to solving the financial and other problems of thousands of deserving victims of the fire,” Trotter said in a letter to the victims of the fire. “As stated above, progress has been made, but there is still more to be done.”

VIDEO: Some California wildfire victims respond to medical arrests withheld from PG&E settlement payments

He promised that the transition would be “seamless” and would not interrupt claims processing.

The trust was created to provide $13.5 billion to compensate the approximately 70,000 victims of the Northern California wildfires of 2015, 2017, and 2018, including the 2018 fire that killed 85 people and largely destroyed the city of Paradise to the north. -east of San Francisco.

The fires were blamed on PG&E’s long-abandoned power grid, and the company was forced to file for bankruptcy, exiting in 2020.

The trust is operated independently of PG&E, but is funded by money and shares in the country’s second-largest public utility that can be sold. However, PG&E stock prices have fallen and the trust is short of about $2 billion in needed funding.

VIDEO: Fire Victim Trust answers questions about $51 million spent on California wildfire victims awaiting payout

Last year, the trust requested a $1.5 billion loan from the state, but it was not granted.

In his letter, Trotter said 250,000 claims had been filed, including 400 death claims and more than 100,000 emotional distress claims. The trust authorized about $4.5 billion in payments, he said.

Trotter told the Sacramento Bee on Wednesday that some fire victims are unhappy with the pace of payouts.

“We got into a situation where we couldn’t live up to unrealistic expectations,” he said.

VIDEO: PG&E lacks millions to pay wildfire victims; the proposed bill will bail them out, but how?

The announcement of Trotter’s resignation comes two months after the trust parted ways with Patrick McCallum, a lobbyist it hired to secure a government loan. This followed news reports that the California State University system paid $600,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by a former school principal who said she was facing retaliation for reporting complaints by university staff that McCallum was sexually harassed. them at the party. McCallum denied the allegations.

The video above is taken from a previous report.

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