In October, 2015, a natural gas storage well at Southern California Gas Company’s Aliso Canyon Storage facility in Northridge, California suffered a massive blowout. SoCalGas was unprepared and ill-equipped to deal with the blowout, and performed a dangerous and ill-conceived kill attempt that severely damaged the well and hampered subsequent attempts by well control specialists.
As a direct result of SoCalGas’ actions, the well blew out of control for 111 days, spewing over 100,000 metric tons of methane into the environment, and carrying crude oil, well kill fluids and other chemicals into the surrounding communities, sickening the residents and forcing them from their homes and schools. Many residents chose to relocate after SoCalGas was directed to offer temporary relocation to affected residents by the Los Angeles Department of Public Health a month into the blowout. While relocated residents no longer had to endure the immediate health effects of the blowout, they suffered months of living out of suitcases in cramped hotel rooms including over the holidays, and many children had to attend new schools.
Kirtland & Packard LLP’s Michael Louis Kelly and Lindsey Bayman, working alongside such notable lawyers as Brian Panish of Shea & Boyle and Ray Boucher of Boucher LLP, represented the interests of over 35,000 residents who suffered in the wake of the blowout. Kelly and Bayman were also appointed as members of the elite trial team.
For six years, the trial team worked tirelessly for a just result for the residents of Porter Ranch and the other affected communities surrounding the Aliso Canyon facility. The team took over 585 days of depositions, reviewed over 2 million documents and retained and worked with many experts preparing for the trial which was set for February 2, 2022.
On September 27, 2021, SoCalGas and its parent, Sempra Energy, agreed to a settlement of $1.8 billion to be paid to the 35,717 residents harmed by the blowout.
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