According to a recent report from the Los Angeles Daily News, a number of additional first responders to one of the worst gas leaks in U.S. history in 2015 in Los Angeles County have suffered adverse medical consequences, for which they recently filed suit against utility Southern California Gas Company (SoCal Gas). This disaster required nearly four months to repair and required the evacuation of thousands of area residents. Now it is resulting in injuries to both the area residents and first responders exposed to the toxic fumes. On January 29th, an additional 22 of the firefighters who responded to the Porter Canyon gas leak filed a lawsuit against the utility in Los Angeles Superior Court. The lawsuit alleges that exposure to the gas from the leak has caused them to develop nosebleeds, migraines, dizziness, rashes, trouble sleeping and breathing difficulties. More seriously, some of the firefighters also appear to have now developed cancer. The lawsuit further alleges the gas company knowingly exposed the firefighters to hazardous levels of toxins, including the cancer-causing chemical formaldehyde. In combination with the 28 firefighters that have previously filed suit against SoCal Gas in connection with injuries suffered in the leak, this suit brings to 51 the total number of firefighters who have filed suit against the utility as a result of adverse health consequences they developed related to the Porter Ranch gas leak.
Disasters like the Porter Ranch gas leak can often take years to manifest themselves in terms of their medical effects. This is particularly true of some side effects like cancer that can be particularly delayed in when they first present themselves. Therefore, it is important if you have been exposed to hazardous chemicals through a disaster like the toxic fumes that were spewed out by the Porter Ranch gas leak to retain an experienced personal injury attorney to assist you in proving your case given that it may be viewed with suspicion by the wrongdoer if it took years for your symptoms or medical condition to manifest itself. However, you are entitled to seek justice for yourself, so contact the experienced personal injury lawyers at JT Legal Group today if you were injured in the Porter Ranch gas leak and are experiencing medical complications now as a result.
The Aliso Canyon Gas storage plant, located near the town of Porter Ranch, was one of the worst single gas leaks in U.S. history. The gas storage facility is the second largest of its kind in the United States and started as an oil well originally drilled in 1956 later repurposed into a gas storage facility. SoCal Gas employees discovered a massive leak in an underground storage well during one of their twice daily inspections of the well on October 23, 2015. However, many area residents suspect the leak had started well before it was supposedly discovered by company employees given that many had been experiencing a rash of unexplained illnesses for week before the leak was reported by SoCal Gas. It took until February 11, 2016 for the company’s employees to permanently seal the leak, which California state officials certified as officially completely sealed on February 18, 2016.
During the nearly four months it took for SoCal Gas employees to plug the leak, the well released more than 100,000 metric tons of methane into the air, forcing nearly 8,000 households in Porter Ranch and other nearby communities to flee their homes to escape the toxic fumes. Despite evacuating, many area residents later reported symptoms and illnesses like migraine headaches, respiratory issues, nosebleeds, rashes and dizziness, among the same complaints later made by firefighters in their lawsuits.
SoCal Gas has faced considerable economic consequences from the Porter Ranch gas leak. The company faced an avalanche of lawsuits related to the leak, one of which it paid $120 million to settle in August 2018 with city, county and state officials and prosecutors. As a part of that settlement, the company also agreed to pay civil fines and to fund (i) expanded air monitoring, (ii) a government-administered health study of the area’s air quality, and (iiii) climate mitigation projects across the region and state. In a separate case filed against the company by the South Coast Air Quality Management District, SoCal Gas agreed to pay an $8.5 million settlement over violations of the California Health and Safety Code during the blowout.
According to a May 2018 report from local radio station KPCC, the company estimated its total liability as a result of the leak at nearly $1 billion at that time. It further reported that most of the liabilities as a result of the gas leak would be covered by its insurance, which it estimated was between $1.2 and $1.4 billion. However, its final exposure as a result of the leak is likely to be considerably more than this amount given the number of lawsuits still pending against the company. In addition to the recently filed lawsuit by firefighters who responded to the leak, which alleges that firefighters remained in the area assisting evacuees without any protective gear because they were never advised by SoCal Gas they were being exposed to harmful and toxic fumes, the company also faces hundreds of still-pending lawsuits from area residents for personal injuries and property damage suffered as a result of the gas leak.
At JT Legal Group, our experienced personal injury lawyers can assist you if you were injured as a result of an environmental disaster like the Aliso Canyon gas leak. Our experienced California attorneys are aggressive and skillful advocates for our clients who have handled a number of cases on behalf of Porter Ranch victims and can assist in helping you recover damages commensurate with your injuries. For more information, including a free consultation regarding your particular situation, contact our firm immediately – we’re here to help you.
-- Michael Avanesian, Esq.
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