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Defamation lawsuit against PG&E begins in Kern County

Posted at 5:49 PM, May 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-17 20:49:10-04

KERN COUNTY, Calif. (KERO) — Harsh allegations are being made against PG&E in a defamation lawsuit.

Jeff Alexander was the owner of Big-n-Deep, an agriculture development services company. One of his employees hit a natural gas line, which caused an explosion and fire that killed a worker and injured two others in 2015.

Tuesday, 23ABC spoke with Alexander's attorney, Rex Parris, who said his client was accused of major violations in a press release from PG&E after the incident which included accusations of illegal and unsafe excavations in Kern County and is responsible for the incident, which they say is not true. Parris also claims the utility company paid off whistleblowers and says their major concern and reason for the lawsuit is that this type of tragedy could happen again.

"The problem these whistleblowers, these people that used to work for the company are experiencing now is... not much has changed," said Parris. "This is going to happen again. Where it happens we'll determine how many people die. These 34-inch transmission pipelines at 700 pounds per square inch or under our hospitals or schools or neighborhoods. And it is going to happen again."

PG&E issued a statement regarding the lawsuit: "The safety of our customers, employees, contractors and the communities we serve is PG&E’s top priority. The defendant struck our high-pressured pipelines twice. The second incident resulted in the fatality of the defendant’s employee and injury to nearby residents. This incident is a reminder that the state of California requires all individuals conducting excavation to do so in adherence to all safe digging laws. Unsafe excavation is one of the leading causes of pipeline incidents. We believe strongly in the jury process, which begins today, and look forward to the decision of the citizens of kern county in this matter."\