Wake Up Call: PG&E Reaches $13.5 Billion Settlement With Fire Victims

Dec. 9, 2019, 12:57 PM
  • PG&E Corp. reached a $13.5 billion settlement with victims of wildfires ignited by its power lines, a big step toward resolving the biggest utility bankruptcy in U.S. history and getting the company out of bankruptcy by mid-next year. (BN via BLAW)

  • PG&E Corp. has Weil Gotshal & Manges, Cravath, Swaine & Moore, and other firms representing it in the bankruptcy. Weil in August billed for $2 million for its work on the case to that point. (BLAW via BLB)

  • Last week a federal bankruptcy trustee said Weil ’s $17.8 million fee for representing mortgage company Ditech Holding Corp. in its Chapter 11 reorganization case since February should be substantially reduced. The official said the bill exceeds what’s “reasonable, necessary, and beneficial.” (BLAW)

  • On the subject of Chapter 11, Massachusetts senator and Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, said she earned about $1.9 million as a corporate bankruptcy lawyer over three decades, working on such cases as Enron, ...etc. (BN)

  • A unit of Ericsson AB pleaded guilty to foreign bribery and the parent company agreed to pay more than $1 billion to resolve a long-running U.S. corruption investigation involving potential payoffs in six countries. (BN via BLAW) Simpson Thacher & Bartlett litigation partner Cheryl Scarboro was advising the Sweden-based telecommunications equipment maker on the settlement, which also required it to hire an independent compliance monitor for three years. (National Law Journal)

  • Tesla CEO Elon Musk and his Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan lawyer beat a defamation lawsuit filed by a British cave expert who sought $190 million in damages over a tweet in which the billionaire called him a “pedo guy.” The case had Quinn partner Alex Spiro facing Atlanta attorney L. Lin Wood, for the caver, Vernon Unsworth. Wood is known for representing Richard Jewell, the security guard falsely accused of a link to the Atlanta Olympic park bombing in 1996. (BN)

  • Jones Day asked a Washington court to dismiss pay bias claims by female former associates of the firms and to impose sanctions, arguing they lack “a good-faith basis.” (BLAW via BLB)

  • Legal industry employment in November rebounded from a couple of off months, adding 2,900 jobs in its best performance since August, according to new government data. (American Lawyer)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • Alston & Bird hired former Federal Trade Commission official Kathleen Benway as a partner in Washington. She spent about a dozen years at the agency and has experience in privacy and data security matters, government investigations, and consumer protection-focused corporate compliance. She arrives most recently from Wilkinson Barker Knauer. (BLB via BLB)

  • A top executive at Philadelphia-based Comcast Corp., David L. Cohen, announced last week that he will step down from his operational responsibilities starting Jan. 1, 2020. In the meantime, it looks like Comcast’s chief legal officer, Thomas Reid, and NBCUniversal general counsel Kimberley Harris, will be taking on some of Cohen’s many roles. (Corporate Counsel)

  • Uber Technologies Inc.’s chief legal officer Tony West and his legal team are getting scrutiny for their handling of the 6,000 reported sexual assault complaints involving the company in 2017 and 2018. (Corporate Counsel)

  • Paul Weiss announced seven partners for 2020, including three women. That’s a more diverse mix than last year’s class. (BLAW via BLB)

  • In disciplinary proceedings last week, former Baker McKenzie London Managing Partner Gary Senior appeared to blame the sexual misconduct he is accused of on the “drinking culture” of Big Law. (Above The Law)

  • America’s Got Talent executive produce Simon Cowell hired Hollywood media litigator Larry Stein to represent him as NBC investigates complaints by fired judge Gabrielle Union of a “toxic” workplace culture on the show. (Deadline)

  • Over 600 U.S. “legal scholars” are listed as signatories to an open letter declaring that President Donald Trump’s conduct involving Ukraine is “clearly impeachable under our Constitution.” (Medium)


  • A Goodwin Procter team in London advised longtime client Bentall GreenOak, a real estate investment management adviser and real estate services provider, on its sale of a portfolio of 42 logistics assets across four European countries for around 1.2 billion euros ($1.33 billion). (GoodwinLaw.com)

  • Locke Lord advised iA Financial Group, a Canadian insurer, in its agreement to acquire Austin-based IAS Parent Holdings, Inc., one of the largest independent U.S. providers of solutions in the vehicle warranty market, for $720 million. (Yahoo Finance)

Pro Bono

  • DLA Piper’s non-profit affiliate New Perimeter, the Canadian NGO Women Lawyers Joining Hands, and the Nepal Bar Association, held a fifth training event for women lawyers in Kathmandu, Nepal. (DLAPiper.com)

Laterals, Moves, In-house, Promotions

  • Union Cannabis Group, a manufacturer and consulting company, hired corporate and intellectual property lawyer Eli Korer as chief legal officer. Korer was previously at Barnes and Thornburg. And more news about recent personnel moves at IP law firms and IP-related organizations. (BLAW)

Legal Actions, Decisions

  • U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg temporarily put on hold subpoenas that would force Deutsche Bank AG and Capital One Financial Corp. to turn over years of President Trump’s financial documents to two House committees. (BN via BLAW)

  • Lawyers representing 147 million people in a $1.4 billion settlement agreement stemming the 2017 Equifax data breach defended their request for $77.5 million in legal fees. (Legaltech News)


  • A legal outsourcing service startup launched by a couple of current and former Shearman & Sterling lawyers says it aims to help law firms and legal departments reduce the cost and commitment of finding new legal talent, while giving recent law grads a new path to work. (BLAW via BLB)

To contact the correspondent on this story: Rick Mitchell in Paris at rMitchell@correspondent.bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com; Darren Bowman at dbowman@bloomberglaw.com

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