In The News

Law360 Article Features Berger Kahn Attorney Christine Forsline on Creek Fire Subrogation Returning to State Court

(filed under: In The News | November 18, 2021)

Attorney Christi Forsline was quoted by Law360 regarding the return of the Creek Fire subrogation suits to state court, a positive development for Berger Kahn and the insurers they represent.

U.S. District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald ruled against Southern California Edison, stating that the utility had not met the standard of federal interest sufficiently for the suit to remain in the federal courts.

Says Law360, “Christine Forsline, an attorney with Berger Kahn representing several of the insurers, said they are pleased with the return of their case to state court.

‘We really appreciate Judge Fitzgerald’s very careful consideration of the issues on federal enclave and federal officer,’ she told Law360. ‘We believe that Edison’s reliance on enclave and officer was misplaced, and this ruling supports our position.'”

Law 360 went on to describe the matter and the new developments in more detail:

“A California federal judge remanded 11 lawsuits against Southern California Edison over the 2017 Creek Fire, finding that the state law claims in the suits don’t raise a substantial federal interest.

U.S. District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald also said in his order Monday that while the fires happened in the Angeles National Forest, California had concurrent jurisdiction.

‘Utility line maintenance in an area that is already subject to state regulation does not implicate a systemwide federal issue,’ the judge wrote.

The power company is facing several suits over the 2017 fire, which Judge Fitzgerald said started after an electric ground fault at a Southern California Edison power line caused a distribution line to arc.

More than 200 homes were destroyed or damaged in the fire, according to the judge’s ruling, and the plaintiffs, many of which are insurance companies, accuse Southern California Edison of failing to conduct inspections and take other reasonable safety measures.

The suits were originally filed in California state court, but moved to federal court by the power company, which argued that the national forest is a federal enclave and that it was subject to a federal officer’s directions, according to the ruling.”