City Gets 100% Of Its Losses Back From SCE – What Does This Mean For Malibu Fire Victims?

Written by on November 14, 2019

Fire victims in Malibu are asking “what does this mean for us???” after the Southern California Edison company has agreed to pay out massive damage settlements with local governments.

360 million dollars will be paid to 23 cities and counties … money the ciies and counties spent paid out to fight recent fires and floods caused by SCE powerline failures.

The settlement set a precedent … for what fire victims can expect from the power company for private property destroyed by the fire.

Malibu’s claim will be settled for almost exactly one dollar in for every one dollar spent … 13 point 7 million dollars.

The city’s lawyers will make an 18 percent contingency payment … which will bring the Malibu total settlement up into the 17 million dollar range.

That settlement will ease a immediate cash flow problem in the city’s bank account.

The city took 12 million dollars from its savings account last year … to pay for fire damage.

That took the savings account down to a level just above what the city needs to preserve its pristine credit record … an important asset that has allowed the city to buy land for parks use at very low mortgage rates.

The 13 point 7 million dollars heading to the City of Malibu is almost exactly the amount if claims that the city submitted, said attorney John Natalizio.

“To get a recovery of this proportion in just 12 months is somewhat remarkable,” Natalizio told KBUU. 

He credits the city staff, which quickly gathered its damage claims for submission.

“They had to count every tree trimmed and every rock moved,” he said.

Southern Cal Edison said it admitted no wrongdoing or liability in the settlement.

But its president issued a statement … saying the for-profit company is eager to make similar settlements with other plaintiffs who want to negotiate in good faith.

The 360 million dollar payout goes to agencies affected by the 2017 Thomas Fire … which burned from Santa Paula to Montecito.

23 people were killed in that fire … and the subsequent flash mudslides that the fire caused.

The Woolsey Fire started last year … it killed at least 6 people and burned property worth an estimated 1 point 6 billion in Malibu alone.

Southern California Edison went into secret arbitration with Malibu and 22 other government agencies very quickly after the fire, and the settlement was reached only 369 days after the fire was sparked by SCE power lines in Woolsey Canyon.

The settlement does not effect lawsuits brought by thousands of homeowners, renters, companies or other agencies against Edison. 

As much as $1.6 billion in claims may be pending against Edison and Boeing, the defense contractor that owns the land where the fire broke out.

This editors’ note: KBUU’s license holder and owner, Zuma Beach FM Emergency and Community Broadcasters Inc., is a plaintiff in a damages suit against Southern California Edison for damages it suffered in the Woolsey Fire.

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