A federal bankruptcy judge denied Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) investors’ motion to apply Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 7023 to their class proofs of claim on Monday.
In the motion, the investors argued that PG&E committed securities fraud by “mis[leading] investors about their wildfire safety practices.” They also claim that PG&E “artificially inflat[ed] stock prices, which then dropped after information regarding [its] improper safety practices emerged between 2017 and 2018.” Judge Dennis Montali refused to apply the rule, which allows the application of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 23, after balancing three factors: whether the class of investors was certified pre-petition, whether the class members received notice of the last day they could make a claim and whether certifying such a class would adversely affect the bankruptcy proceedings.
Montali denied the motion because of the third factor. The final decision came down to the amount of “chaos” granting the motion could create. Such chaos could prevent PG&E from exiting bankruptcy by June 30, 2020 (a deadline it must meet to receive funds from a state made insurance policy). Though the judge denied the motion, he recognized that the investors had proven that PG&E failed to properly notify creditors (those the bankruptcy filing entity owed debts to). Thus, the judge extended the deadlines that originally fell at the end of 2019 to April 15, 2020.
This decision comes almost a year after a Federal Court demanded that PG&E stop paying dividends to its shareholders and instead pay for vegetation management following the 2017 and 2018 California wildfires.
PG&E announced on Tuesday that it will raise $25.6b through the sale of its securities as it attempts to exit bankruptcy.