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Horvitz & Levy is a solutions-based firm focused on appellate success. We are distinguished by our commitment to responsive service and on-going innovation in the areas of civil appellate litigation, amicus curiae support, and trial strategy consultation.

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Horvitz & Levy helped obtain a Supreme Court decision that protects utility wildfire mitigation efforts and rejects a class action lawsuit seeking $2.5 billion in damages for those efforts.

 Plaintiff Anthony Gantner, on behalf of a class of customers, sought $2.5 billion in damages for emergency power shutoffs, called Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS), that PG&E conducted in 2019.  Those events affected over 1 million customers.  The Supreme Court held that Gantner’s action against PG&E was barred because the suit would interfere with the California Public Utilities Commission’s broad and continuing supervision of PSPS events as a tool for wildfire mitigation.

Gantner filed the lawsuit during PG&E’s bankruptcy in 2019, alleging that PG&E’s October and November 2019 PSPS events were “necessitated” by PG&E’s alleged negligence in maintaining its electrical equipment, and seeking damages for a putative class made up of “all California residents and business owners who had their power shut off by PG&E”.  The bankruptcy court dismissed the complaint.  It held the claims are preempted by Public Utilities Code section 1759, which preempts claims that hinder or interfere with the Public Utilities Commission’s regulatory authority.  Mr. Gantner appealed that decision to the district court, which agreed with the bankruptcy court.  Mr. Gantner then appealed that decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  The Ninth Circuit found that the case presented novel questions about the scope of preemption and requested that the California Supreme Court decide the issue.

Horvitz & Levy associated as counsel for PG&E in the California Supreme Court.  That Court accepted PG&E’s arguments about the effect of section 1759.  The Court held that allowing suit here would interfere with the Public Utilities Commission’s comprehensive regulatory and supervisory authority over PSPS events, because the suit claims damages for PSPS events without regard to whether those events were necessary or proper under the Commission’s guidelines.  The Court thus held that section 1759 bars Mr. Gantner’s suit.  The Court’s decision will assist the Commission and utilities in their ongoing and important efforts to mitigate the risk of catastrophic wildfires.