Superior Court Judge Steven Dylina said shareholders who began suing the company three years ago can now compel executives to testify under oath in depositions and collect evidence as they seek to prove that officials’ mismanagement exposed stockholders to billions of dollars in penalties and costs to fix PG&E’s natural-gas system.
The shareholders are seeking damages personally from executives including President Christopher Johns and former PG&E Corp. CEO Peter Darbee.
…The shareholders countered that keeping the stay in place would frustrate their efforts to learn whether executives were responsible for misconduct leading up to the September 2010 pipeline explosion that killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes.
…On Monday, Dylina agreed with the shareholders, saying “it appears it is in the best interests of PG&E” to have the lawsuit go forward, not be stalled.
If the company is “truly unaware of criminal conduct, it is in PG&E’s best interest to discover the conduct and correct it immediately so that it is not further exposed to risk and liability,” Dylina said.
…”All the arrows point to the same problem: a dysfunctional culture at a company whose rhetoric about safety doesn’t match its practice,” [Attorney Frank] Pitre said.
“This case merely seeks to pull the curtain and get behind the amorphous PG&E culture, to identify those executives who made the decisions to circumvent safety in the name of profit.”
Blast lawsuit seeking money from PG&E execs gets go-ahead; PG&E shareholders can compel testimony, August 5, 2014