Porter Ranch Victims to Take to Courthouse Steps to Fight SoCalGas Plea BargainNovember 28, 2016
Victims of the Porter Ranch Gas Blowout are taking their fight against a SoCalGas plea deal to the steps of the Los Angeles County Superior Court in Santa Clarita. On 8:30 a.m. on Nov. 29, the victims — along with attorneys Brian Panish of Panish Shea & Boyle LLP and R. Rex Parris of the Parris Law Firm — will hold a press conference, following a hearing, to assert that approval of a plea deal in the utility’s criminal case will violate their right to restitution as guaranteed by the state’s constitution.
Following an 8:30 a.m. hearing
Steps of LA County Superior Court,
23747 Valencia Blvd, Santa Clarita
Update Nov. 29: The press conference is streaming below.
The SoCalGas criminal case stems from a massive gas leak that rocked the LA neighborhood Porter Ranch for 100 days from October 2015 to February 2016. The leak released over 100,000 tons of methane gas into the atmosphere. During that time 8,000 people who lived in the vicinity of the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility were forced out of their homes because of the noxious smell and health concerns.
After the leak stopped, the LA District Attorney filed four misdemeanor criminal charges against SoCalGas for releasing air contaminants at its storage facility and failing to report the release until three days after the October 2015 blowout began. Under the plea agreement, the gas company pleaded no contest to one misdemeanor count of failing to immediately notify the California Office of Emergency Services and the Los Angeles County Fire Department, with the three remaining misdemeanor charges to be dismissed at sentencing on Nov. 29.
The plea agreement does not include a requirement for a probation report, which would have resulted in notice to the victims and an opportunity to submit a claim for restitution. On Oct. 18, attorneys for the victims filed a petition to request a withdrawal of the plea agreement. Victims’ counsel are looking to quash the plea agreement at a Nov. 29 court hearing.
The news conference will occur on the courthouse steps at 23747 Valencia Blvd in Santa Clarita, following the 8:30 a.m. hearing. For more updates, check out the Porter Ranch Facebook page.