By Jose Herrera
Signal Staff Writer
Six years after the discovery of a gas leak at the Southern California Gas Co.’s Aliso Canyon facility, thousands of Porter Ranch residents — including those represented by local law firm Owen, Patterson & Owen — have reached a $1.8 billion settlement.
“Our clients have endured this process [since 2015], and we are thrilled with the results,” said Susan Owen, who is a senior partner at OPO and a member of the plaintiff steering committee, a small group of lawyers who spearheaded the litigation.
OPO represented approximately 3,800 plaintiffs against SoCal Gas, a utility company based in Los Angeles, the primary provider of natural gas to Southern California, and its parent company, Sempra Energy.
The work included more than 585 depositions, according to a news release from OPO, which added that the Porter Ranch award is the latest in a string of high-profile victories for the law firm, including the USC sexual abuse case and the Las Vegas Route 91 shooting.
Thousands of Porter Ranch residents, including many children, reported neurological, gastrointestinal and other respiratory health issues due to exposure from the gas leak in Aliso Canyon. More than 8,000 families were forced to evacuate their homes and children relocated to safer schools, according to Owen.
“With this announcement, Porter Ranch residents and workers can begin laying the new foundation for their hard-fought and long-awaited journey back to normalcy,” Owen said.
“There’s not just this one location,” Owen added. “If we are going to do this, you know, allow utilities to do this sort of thing, they need to be very careful. I mean there is no cost-benefit analysis when it comes to the health of your family.”