California law has outlined some conduct as so inherently dangerous and ultra-hazardous that it must fall under a strict liability theory of torts. Strict liability takes out any opportunity for the defendant to attest to his reasonableness under the circumstances. Strict liability defendants are also not permitted to set forth evidence of extreme caution or due care in the ultra-hazardous activity. By virtue of the sheer risk associated with the conduct, the defendant is found strictly liable solely due to his involvement in the risk. Examples of such ultra-hazardous activities typically involve the keeping of dangerous wild animals, blasting, excavating and storage of chemicals.
Many Californians recall the massive pipeline blast that killed eight San Bruno residents and injured many others. The blast took place on September 9th of last year within natural gas pipelines maintained by Pacific Gas and Electric Company. The massive eruption sent flames high into the air and caused indescribable tremors, leading many to believe an earthquake had hit area located two miles from the San Francisco International Airport. Witnesses reported seeing a wall of flame nearly 1,000 feet in the air. Emergency response crews took up to an hour after responding to recognize the disaster as a pipeline eruption.
Thirty-five San Bruno homes were completely destroyed in the blaze and the force of the explosion created a 167-foot wide crater in the earth. After a months-long investigation, federal investigators revealed their findings: defective welds in the pipes, welds that did not fit together properly and replacements to many areas of the pipeline excluding the San Bruno area.
In response to the devastation, loss of life and property damage, 74 lawsuits have been filed against Pacific Gas & Electric. It is not clear at this time whether the lawsuits are under a theory of strict liability or plain negligence, but the situation in San Bruno California presents a perfect scenario of when a personal injury plaintiff could be held strictly liable. The sheer magnitude of the risk associated the storage and transportation of flammable natural gas could easily lend itself to the strict liability theory of tort law; giving Pacific Gas & Electric virtually no defense to any one of the dozens of lawsuits filed against it.
The cases will be consolidated and presented before San Mateo Superior Court Judge Steven Dylina. Consolidated lawsuits differ from class action lawsuits in that consolidation is a tactic used solely to effectuate judicial efficiency and economy. Word is that multiple lawsuits are set to be filed at the conclusion of victims’ lawsuits by shareholders of Pacific Gas and Electric. The corporate assets fell over nearly $1 billion following the accident.
If you or someone you love has been recently injured by a defendant involved in an inherently dangerous or ultra-hazardous activity, do not hesitate to contact our offices: (800)-300-0001.