Camp Fire: PG&E pleads guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter for negligence in California’s worst wildfire

Originally published at:

“The California utility agreed to pay a nearly $2 billion fine for causing the blaze, which killed dozens and destroyed the town of Paradise.”


Which is it? $3.5 million or $2 billion?

In any event, I know they’re not shelling out $2 billion really: once the newspapers have moved on it will be cut and cut and cut and passed on to customers, etc. But as for the first figure, the State of California has decided that the lives of your loved ones are worth less than $42,000 dollars.

Also, of course, no-one will go to jail.


And there we have it. The real problem. And I’m sure there’s something in the guilty plea about not targeting executives for further prosecution.


Dissolving police unions needs to be at the top of the list, but abolishing corporate personhood is not much further down drom that. “Guilty” my ass! A corporation doesn’t have-or need- a conscience!


My guess is pleading guilty will speed up the process of emerging from bankruptcy, which PG&E is on schedule to do at the end of June 2020. So, in two weeks, they need to have the money taps flowing again, no matter what.

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There should be a law that the company mascot has to serve the time.


So when will the prison sentence start? Only the CEO and board if that is all we can gather up. Oh yeah, I forgot. Corporations are people when it comes to corrupting the political process but not when it comes to taking the punishments that real people would be subject to.


Cut or not obviously whatever fine is left over needs to be paid, and a company would indeed need to take that out of their income stream, or find away to increase the income. So the prices of the products go up. Unless maybe PG&E could moonlight another job in there? Gas, electric, and internet? House movers?

The problem with fining a monopoly, esp. a utility is the customers don’t have anywhere else to go.

Yeah, that is a pretty significant part of the problem.

Dissolving the company would work out poorly for people that need electricity or gas. At least in the short term.

A full change of all leadership at the company would be less disruptive to all the customers, and might fix the problem (it is easy to assume the problem was created by management, and replacing management would fix it…but corporate culture frequently survives management change, and isn’t even always created by management).

I don’t really know what would fix it…but a fine won’t, so maybe it is time to start trying other methods of correction for corporate offenders?

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PG&E confessed to homicides. If in Texas, would it be executed?

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Corporate death penalty. If it’s good enough for the rest of us, it’s good enough for them. I mean, if they want to be treated as people…

Defund Perjury Graft & Extortion.

It really is the same issue as police: They have us by the balls because people think there is no way to get rid of them. But there is a place to go: publicly owned utilities. They are driving themselves to bankruptcy over and over so let’s make this the time the shareholders eat the losses instead of the ratepayers.

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[ETA specfic references to California law]

Pleading guilty to a felony could indeed result in the “corporate death penalty.” It is within the powers of the state of incorporation to declare that the corporation has violated its charter and operates contrary to the public interest, revoke the articles of incorporation, and declare all the corporate assets forfeit.

It’s never done nowadays, but there is precedent. From the order in People of New York v North River Sugar Refining Company:

And so we have reached our conclusion, and it appears to us to have been established, that the defendant corporation has violated its charter and failed in the performance of its corporate duties, and that in respects so material and important as to justify a judgment of dissolution.

Lots of law review articles, including this one, conduct serious review of reviving this deterrent.

Specificlally to California, the Attorney General has the power to file suit for corporate dissolution (Corporations Code, section 6511) on the grounds that:

(1) The corporation has seriously offended against any provision of the statutes regulating corporations or charitable organizations.
(2) The corporation has fraudulently abused or usurped corporate privileges or powers.
(3) The corporation has violated any provision of law by any act or default which under the law is a ground for forfeiture of corporate existence.
(4) The corporation has failed to pay to the Franchise Tax Board for a period of five years any tax imposed upon it by the Bank and Corporation Tax Law.

Two specific acts that satisfy the conditions of paragraph (3) (from the preceding section of the Corporations Code):

[the earlier clauses relate to a corporation’s having ceased to operate without formally dissolving, and to unresolvable dissension among members of the board or shareholders]

(5) Those in control of the corporation have been guilty of or have knowingly countenanced persistent and pervasive fraud, mismanagement or abuse of authority or the corporation’s property is being misapplied or wasted by its directors or officers.
(6) Liquidation is reasonably necessary as the corporation is failing and has continuously failed to carry out its purposes.

[sections 7 and 8 relate to corporations that have termination clauses in their charters]


Hmmm, so can be dissolved for fraud, failure to pay taxes for an extended period of time, but nothing noted for just plain killing a bunch of people. I guess it gets to shamble on an kill again as long as it keeps paying taxes and not defrauding people.

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