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Interview with Fire Victim Trust includes details on claims involving children and the elderly

The FVT was set up after PG&E's bankruptcy to compensate survivors from the Camp Fire and other No. Calif. fires. New numbers for claims and payments were added to this story on Saturday, Apr. 17, 2021.

Posted: Apr 16, 2021 4:32 PM
Updated: Apr 17, 2021 7:39 PM

Update 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Apr. 17, 2021 - Action News Now received new numbers from the Fire Victim Trust on Saturday and we have added them to this story.

As of Apr. 15, 2021, the following numbers are valid, according to the Trust.

Number of Claims Questionnaires Submitted: 39,889
Number of Individual Claims: 248,376
Number of Claimants (multiple claimants in a household can share one claim questionnaire): 70,280

Amount of Preliminary Payments: $112.9 million
Number of Claimants Who Have Received Preliminary Payments: 8,676

Amount of Pro-Rata Payments: $54.7 million
Number of Claimants Who Have Received Pro-Rata Payments: 160

Total Amount Paid to Claimants to Date: $167.7 million
Total Number of Claimants Who Have Received Any Type of Payment to Date: 8,721

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CHICO, Calif. - The Fire Victim Trust, set up through the bankruptcy court for survivors of several Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) caused wildfires, has again responded to questions concerning the details of the operation of their claims and payment processes.

Trust Administrator Cathy Yanni spoke with Action News Now digital editor Lorraine Dechter on Friday to clarify the process further. The entire Friday interview with Yanni is attached to this article.

A recent seven-page letter to survivors from Judge Trotter, another administrator of the Trust, provided answers to several questions asked by Action News Now on behalf of the 70,280 claimants working through the Fire Victim Trust process.

The Fire Victim Trust cannot pay people their entire claim amounts, at least at this point, because there are still 478 million shares of PG&E stock that need to be sold. Since it is unknown how much the stock will sell for, it is possible the Trust will end up underfunded, meaning claimants with approved offers will only receive a percentage of their offers.

Some first "pro-rata payments" have been going out recently which are paying 30 percent of approved claim amounts. In this video interview Administrator, Yanni explains why the percentage paid on the initial pro-rata payments was set at 30 percent.

Several elderly people have expressed concern about the timeliness of payments, wondering if they would see any money at all because of their age. It is expected that payments could take up to three years for fire survivors, however, some have received 30 percent of their approved claims already. Judge Trotter said in his letter to survivors that it will be "months, not years," before people can find out how much they are being offered on their claims.

Yanni assured Action News Now that attorneys can ask for a "hardship" and have their case assigned to a "triage team" at the Trust, which will speed up their payments.

Other fire survivors with Fire Victim Trust claims have asked for more details on how payments are structured for children. There is a Trust that will be set up for minors to access upon their 18th birthdays, but Yanni also describes during the interview the process a parent must go through if funds are needed by a family sooner, in case funds are necessary for the safety and well-being of the minor.

Yanni also responded to explain a frequently asked question by fire survivors. If she, as administrator, has to personally review each and every claim (248,280 claims as of Friday spread over 70,280 claimants' cases), how can that be done to meet the Judge's statement that offers would be made in "months, not years."

Yanni said she recently hired another twenty claims reviewers to speed up the process. She said she also recently hired more people to do the quality assurance of the claims.

Watch the whole interview with the Fire Victim Trust Claims Administrator posted with this story to get the most current information available on the claims process and Trust procedures.

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Lightning-caused fires will be a concern over the next few days as thunderstorms enter the forecast. We stay warm to begin next week but cool into the 70s by Wednesday.
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