Victims of crimes, like the victims from the SoCalGas Leak, are entitled to a set of constitutional protections. One of those constitutional protections is the right to receive restitution from the entity who committed a criminal offense, which in this case is SoCalGas. However, in September 2016 SoCalGas and the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office agreed to a plea deal in which SoCalGas entered a plea of no contest to a misdemeanor offense and pay a fine of $75,000. This arrangement did not require SoCalGas to make restitution payments to any person affected by the gas leak. The agreement was reached without any of the victims’ attorneys present, let alone their consent.
In response, Attorneys for the victims of the Porter Ranch Gas Leak took the matter to California’s Second Appellate District Court after the Appellate Division of the Los Angeles Superior Court upheld the plea agreement. SoCalGas and the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office must respond to questions set forth in the appeal by December 17, 2018. The victims’ attorneys will then have until January 18, 2019, to respond as well. Once responses are in from both sides, a separate court date will be set for the Court to hear oral arguments from all parties and then rule on the matter. We will keep you posted with any updates along the way.
-- Michael Avanesian, Esq.
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