SoCal Edison settles lawsuit over wildfires

Southern California Edison has agreed to pay $360 million to local governments to settle lawsuits over deadly wildfires sparked by its equipment in the past two years, including one blamed for a mudslide that killed more than 20 people, the utility and attorneys announced Wednesday.

The sum will reimburse counties, cities and other public agencies for firefighting costs and repairing damage from two of the region’s worst blazes. The figure will not fully repay taxpayer costs, but it will help pay the bills to rebuild roads, other infrastructure and clean up debris, among other things, said attorney John Fiske, who represents local governments.

The group of nearly two dozen public entities that includes small fire, water and park agencies had sued Southern California Edison for negligence and improper operation of power lines and equipment, failure to clear vegetation around electric lines and for not shutting down circuits when high winds created fire danger.

SoCal Edison said it admitted no wrongdoing or liability.

The Thomas Fire that broke out in dry brush in Ventura County was sparked when the utility’s power lines slapped together in high winds on Dec. 4, 2017, investigators said. Two people were killed and 440 square miles were burned.

The burn zone included a mountainside above the seaside city of Montecito, where a deluge a month later in fire-scarred terrain triggered a mudslide that killed at least 21 people. Two others were never found.

The settlement is dwarfed by the $1 billion settlement Pacific Gas & Electric reached with local governments in Northern California for fires its equipment caused in recent years.

— Associated Press


Daniels fights Trump bid for settlement cash

Attorneys for porn actress Stormy Daniels are challenging a request by President Trump’s lawyers to stake claim to a settlement between Daniels and Ohio’s capital city.

A federal judge said last year that Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, must pay Trump nearly $293,000 for his attorneys’ fees and an additional $1,000 in sanctions after her defamation suit against him was dismissed.

Earlier this year, the city of Columbus reached a $450,000 settlement with Daniels over the her arrest at a strip club in 2018. Trump’s lawyers noted in a filing to the court involved in the Columbus judgment last week that Daniels owes him $293,052.

Daniels’s attorneys said in a Wednesday filing that she has an active appeal in her defamation suit and that Trump’s request should be deemed “null and void.”

— Associated Press

Navy to name warship after Lugar: The Navy will name a warship in honor of the late former senator Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.). Sen. Todd C. Young (R-Ind.) announced Wednesday that Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer and members of the Lugar family will attend a private naming ceremony for the USS Richard G. Lugar at the Indiana War Memorial in Indianapolis on Monday. Lugar, who died in April at age 87, volunteered for the Navy and served as an officer from 1957 to 1960.

Cows survive after being washed away by hurricane: Three castaway cows have been discovered on North Carolina's Outer Banks, where they apparently washed up after swimming for miles to escape Hurricane Dorian's storm surge. Cape Lookout National Seashore officials believe the cows swam up to five miles during the September storm before being found near Cape Lookout this month. The cows belong to a herd that roams freely on Cedar Island, across the sound. Dorian generated an eight-foot "mini tsunami," washing them and dozens of other animals away, including 28 wild horses that died. A seashore spokesman told McClatchy news group that the cows are grazing peacefully after a harrowing feat of survival but need to go home.

— Associated Press