SAN FRANCISCO: Trident DMG is providing communications support for a group representing victims of the 2018 Camp Fire and 2017 Tubbs Fire, the two most destructive wildfires in California’s history.
The firm, cofounded by political operative and lawyer Lanny Davis, is "developing and preparing a communications plan" for the victims, who are represented by the Tort Claimants Committee, according to court documents. Communications provided by Trident will be distributed through the committee’s website and other media.
In a San Francisco Chronicle op-ed published on Tuesday, the committee contended that PG&E, the utility company blamed for igniting the blazes, is attempting to subvert the bankruptcy process and minimize the compensation it owes to victims. Liabilities from the fires are at least $30 billion, forcing PG&E to seek Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this year.
State investigators had cleared PG&E of causing the Tubbs Fire. However, attorneys for the claimants want to present evidence showing that the utility was at fault, but whether they can do so depends on a court’s decision, according to The Mercury News.
Trident DMG has been working on behalf of the committee since July 18. The hire was subject to approval from U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Northern District of California. If approved, the TCC would pay Trident $45,000 for the first month, running from July 18 to August 17, and $35,000 for each subsequent month, according to the documents. The initial contract is set to run through November 17 with an option for an extension.
Because of the large number of victims, how "dispersed" the group is and their unfamiliarity with the litigation process, the committee contended it had to hire Trident to educate them on "what they need to do to fully realize their rights," according to court documents.
"Many of these claimants are not even aware of the TCC or its role in the cases," the group said in court documents. "These involuntary creditors need more explanation and guidance regarding basic bankruptcy terms and principles and bankruptcy proceedings." The TCC also cited Trident’s work in financial proceedings for other California cities and the owner of a telecommunications company in the Virgin Islands.
Other PR firms have worked on cases involving PG&E and California wildfires. Sard Verbinnen & Co. represented the utility during the Chapter 11 process, according to its website.