PG&E expects to pay $565 million in settlements for San Bruno pipeline blast in September 2010. Houston Chronicle, September 11, 2013 A10 http://bit.ly/15TaO3f
I used this case as a teaching example in 2011 at a keynote presentation on ediscovery in Houston that highlights the divide between the left-most box (Information Management) in the E-Discovery Reference Model (EDRM) and the rest of the model. http://bit.ly/1d6ixQV The challenge in the ediscovery context is to get lawyers to look upstream of the discovery problems, which are in a sense a production defect. The challenge in the business case is to get business people to understand the value of records they want to keep to disprove negligence or malfeasance.
In March 2011, San Diego Gas & Electric admitted it couldn’t find the inspection reports for more than a third of its high-pressure pipelines that run through populated areas. http://on.wsj.com/1g13t6y, http://on.wsj.com/15X6jnC
How much lower would the settlements have been if the company could have produced records that all the pipelines had been inspected? How much was this information worth? Without the records, how to you prove the pipeline wasn’t negligently installed or maintained? Regardless whether the company’s records retention schedule covered these documents, wouldn’t the business have wanted to have them and keep them for business reasons?