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PG&E crews repair power lines that were destroyed by the Camp Fire on Nov. 21, 2018 in Paradise, California. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A trust representing over 80,000 victims of deadly Northern California wildfires ignited by Pacific Gas and Electric's (PG&E) electrical grid filed a lawsuit Wednesday against almost two dozen of its former executives for alleged neglect.

Why it matters: The suit, filed in the San Francisco Superior Court, accuses them of "dereliction of duty" by allegedly failing to ensure the equipment would not kill people.

  • If successful, the suit could ease a billion-dollar shortfall the Fire Victim Trust is facing due to half of a promised settlement consisting of PG&E stock that's now "worth less than what was hoped for when the deal was struck toward the end of 2019," AP notes.

The big picture: The trust retained the right to bring a suit as part of the $13.5 billion settlement reached between the fire victims and PG&E, as the company was facing bankruptcy. It gained bankruptcy approval last June.

  • The lawsuit concerns the catastrophic 2017 North Bay Fires and the 2018 Camp Fire.
  • PG&E pleaded guilty in 2018 to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter for those California residents killed in the Camp Fire.
  • The suit seeks to "tap into the $200 million to $400 million in liability insurance that PG&E secured for the former executives and board members," case lawyer Frank Pitre told AP.

What they're saying: John Trotter, the trustee overseeing the earlier settlement, said in a statement those named in the suit "had the responsibility to customers, employees, shareholders, and the public to ensure that safety was one of PG&E’s highest priorities."

  • "They had the power to do so," he added. "Yet they failed, at enormous financial cost to the company and indescribable cost to entire Northern California communities."

The other side: Per AP, PG&E said in response to the suit, "We remain focused on reducing wildfire risk across our service area and making our electric system more resilient to the climate-driven challenges we all face in California."

Read the complaint, via DocumentCloud:

Go deeper

3 hours ago - Health

WHO: Not yet known whether Omicron leads to more severe disease

Photo illustration: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The World Health Organization on Sunday said that it is not yet clear whether the newly discovered Omicron variant is more transmissible than other strains of the COVID-19 virus.

Why it matters: The agency's statement comes as the variant, discovered in South Africa, has already been detected in European and Asian countries.

8 hours ago - Health

Fauci: Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in U.S.

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, cautioned on Sunday that the COVID-19 Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in the United States.

Driving the news: Fauci, Biden's chief medical adviser, told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" that U.S. officials will meet with colleagues from South Africa later on Sunday to try to determine the severity of the cases, as countries scramble to learn more about the variant.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Dems fear supply-chain blame

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As supply-chain kinks drive up prices and disrupt holiday shopping, Democrats are scrambling to show action and deflect blame.

Why it matters: With their party controlling both the White House and Capitol, vulnerable Democrats worry supply-chain snafus will hurt them in next year's midterms.