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United States District Court for the Northern District of California
June 17, 2020, Decided; June 17, 2020, Filed
Case No. 19-cv-04171-JD
[*879] ORDER RE MOTIONS TO DISMISS
Re: Dkt. Nos. 48, 49
Plaintiffs Alex Cannara and Gene A. Nelson are California residents and "electric and gas ratepayers of Pacific Gas & Electric Company." Dkt. No. 46 ¶¶ 16-18. In a first amended complaint ("FAC"), they seek declaratory and injunctive relief against a decision by the California Public Utilities Commission ("CPUC") to impose a charge on ratepayers in connection with California Assembly Bill 1054, an "urgency bill" that established a fund of approximately $1 billion to help cover the losses from future wildfires caused by public utilities. The Commission and other defendants ask to dismiss the case under FRCP Rule 12(b)(1) and Rule 12(b)(6) based on, among other grounds, the Johnson Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1342, which bars the district courts from hearing cases challenging an order affecting public utility rates. Dkt. Nos. 48, 49. The FAC is dismissed with prejudice.
The factual background for the [**3] motions to dismiss is not materially disputed. A significant portion of it comes out of the public record before the CPUC. Defendants have asked the Court to take judicial notice of the pertinent CPUC orders. See Dkt. Nos. 48-1, 49-1. Plaintiffs opposed judicial notice of certain disputed facts contained in the documents, Dkt. Nos. 52-1, 53-1, but submitted some of the same documents in support of their supplemental briefing on the Johnson Act, Dkt. No. 65-1. Both sides have relied on the CPUC record, and the Court will consider the CPUC materials for purposes of these motions. See Khoja v. Orexigen Therapeutics, Inc., 899 F.3d 988, 999 (9th Cir. 2018); County of Stanislaus v. PG&E Co., No. CV-F-93-5866-OWW, 1995 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21411, 1995 WL 819150, at *8 (E.D. Cal. Dec. 18, 1995) (court "may properly take judicial notice of public records of the CPUC"), aff'd, 114 F.3d 858 (9th Cir. 1997). In addition, the Court may review evidence outside of the complaint to resolve jurisdiction disputes under Rule 12(b)(1). Safe Air for Everyone v. Meyer, 373 F.3d 1035, 1039 (9th Cir. 2004); Patel v. Facebook Inc., 290 F. Supp. 3d 948, 951-52 (N.D. Cal. 2018).
The salient facts are straightforward. California enacted AB 1054 in July 2019 in response to several catastrophic wildfires caused by the Pacific Gas & Electric Company ("PG&E") and other public utilities. The fires resulted in over 100 deaths, destroyed homes and other buildings, burned vast tracts of land, and inflicted untold suffering on tens of thousands [**4] of California residents. The utilities' financial liability for the fires has been massive. PG&E went into bankruptcy over the liability, and has agreed to pay $13.5 billion to more [*880] than 70,000 fire victims, and another $11 billion to the insurance companies that covered some of the victims' claims. See generally In re PG&E Corporation, No. 19-cv-05257-JD (N.D. Cal. filed Aug. 22, 2019).
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
467 F. Supp. 3d 877 *; 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 107071 **; 2020 WL 3268537
ALEX CANNARA et al., Plaintiffs, v. KARLA NEMETH et al., Defendants.
Subsequent History: Affirmed by Cannara v. Nemeth, 2021 U.S. App. LEXIS 38566 (9th Cir. Cal., Dec. 30, 2021)
notice, nonbypassable, electrical, Wildfire, ratepayers, comments, parties, rates, evidentiary hearing, plaintiffs', ratesetting, courts, rulemaking, disputes, Memo