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JUNE 2017

 

Energy Section Member Michael O’Connor co-presenter in Montreaux!

 

Following last month’s update about Federation member Bruce Parkerson, the Energy Utilities section wanted to focus on Bruce’s co-presenter, section member Michael J. O’Connor.  Michael is the Associate General Manager/Chief Legal Executive for Salt River Project, the country’s third largest public power entity with nearly 6,000 employees.  SRP provides power and water to a large portion of the Phoenix metropolitan area.  Michael joined SRP in 2011 and is responsible for the company’s Legal, Human Resources, Land, and Risk Management Departments.  He was previously a partner Jennings Strouss in Phoenix, and is a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers as well as FDCC.  Michael and his wife, Michelle, have four adult children.   

Michael and Bruce will be co-presenters for a fascinating look at the difficulties of defending a company embroiled in litigation on multiple fronts arising out of the same incident.  On September 9, 2010, a 30-inch high pressure natural gas pipeline owned and operated by Pacific Gas & Electric ruptured and exploded in San Bruno, California, about 11 miles from San Francisco.  As explained more fully in the presentation and associated white paper, the pipeline rupture immediately released pressurized natural gas into a residential area and was instantly ignited.  The resulting conflagration was devastating.  38 nearby homes were destroyed and 70 others damaged; 600 firefighting personnel responded to the scene; and 300 homes were evacuated.  Eight people were killed from the blast or fire, and 58 others were injured.  In all, 47.6 million cubic feet of gas was released from the ruptured pipe before gas flow was cut off. 

 

“Walking the Tightrope: Balancing the Defense in a War on Multiple Fronts” explores the conflicts and complex challenges PG&E dealt with as it was forced to defend hundreds of civil lawsuits and claims, while at the same time being the subject of intense inquiries by several regulatory agencies at the state and federal level. Federal criminal charges were brought against PG&E in the Northern District of California, which ultimately resulted in the company’s conviction on several counts. The presentation and paper also examine the difficulties inherent in fighting multiple battles on multiple fronts, arising from the same set of circumstances, where each action in any context is likely to affect the defense in the others.

 

Please join Michael and Bruce in Montreaux for this exciting discussion! 

 

MAY 2017

 

Energy Section Member Bruce Parkerson to Present in Montreaux!

 

New Orleans attorney and Federation member Bruce Parkerson will be part of a presentation that addresses many of the difficult and conflicting legal issues that resulted from a pipeline explosion in San Bruno, CA on September 9, 2010.  The presentation,“Walking the Tightrope: Balancing the Defense in a War on Multiple Fronts”, addresses the legal challenges that Pacific Gas & Electric dealt with as it was forced to defend hundreds of civil lawsuits and claims, while at the same time being the subject of intense inquiries by several regulatory agencies at the state and federal level. Federal criminal charges were brought against PG&E in the Northern District of California, which ultimately resulted in the company’s conviction on several counts. The presentation will also explore the difficulties inherent in fighting multiple battles on multiple fronts, arising from the same set of circumstances, where each action in any context is likely to affect the defense in the others.

 

Bruce is an American College trial lawyer, Super Lawyer, and a Best Lawyer in America in the areas of commercial litigation and products liability.  He frequently represents natural gas pipeline operators in many states throughout the South and Southwest, and has served as lead counsel in trials of complex cases involving fires and explosions, natural gas leaks, carbon monoxide poisoning, and alleged toxic exposure to odorant.  Bruce has tried more than 40 cases to verdict and is a frequent speaker at conferences sponsored by natural gas industry associations. 

 

 

 

In his free time, Bruce loves to be outdoors and enjoys hiking.  He is hoping to find a trail in Switzerland as beautiful as a hike he and his wife recently enjoyed in Whistler, British Columbia.









APRIL 2017

 

Energy Utilities Section Members Helped Energize the 2017 Winter Meeting!

 

Energy Utility Section members enthusiastically descended on Charleston in early March for the annual Winter Meeting. In addition to delighting in the beautiful weather, captivating architecture, and savory Low Country cuisine that highlighted the week, section members also enjoyed two particularly memorable events. The first was a well-attended ‘dine around’ dinner on March 7th at Hank’s, the Charleston seafood institution. Section Chair Marjorie Berger and her husband, Dr. David Rowe, led a contingent of 14 section members, spouses, and special guests through a multi-course evening that saw Hank’s favorites and specials paired with several richly complex Napa vintages. Australian member Chris Rodd and his wife, Susan Davis, M.D., traveled farthest to join the group, which also included panelists Bryony Hodges of SCANA and B. Don Russell, Ph.D. of Texas A&M University. The dinner underscored a wonderful benefit of FDCC membership, the opportunity to share observations and experiences on wide-ranging subjects with other members from around the country and the world.

The ‘dine around’ evening was followed early the next morning by a panel discussion co-sponsored by the Energy Utilities Section about current and future cyber-security threats to the U.S. power grid. James Kelly, a corporate member from Chubb, joined Ms. Hodges, Dr. Russell, and moderator Michael Aylward in providing complementary perspectives about the security and vulnerabilities of the U.S. grid. Dr. Russell shared insights from his decades of experience as an electric power engineer, researcher, professor, and industry expert. He described how digital modernization of SCADA systems has actually created more cyber-security vulnerabilities than existed with legacy systems from the 1960s and ‘70s. Older, legacy systems generally were not networked or otherwise susceptible to remote access by unauthorized users, whether that be a terrorist, state actor, or prideful hacker. As a result, the ability of an unauthorized user to cause a widespread outage was very limited. But even today, it is not easy or quick for a hacker to attempt to shut down portions of the grid. Bryony Hodges picked up from Dr. Russell and explained in general terms the types of safeguards and security practices electric power industry companies may use to protect their systems from unauthorized users. Jim Kelly concluded the presentation by sharing yet another perspective, which involves how the insurance industry makes cyber-security risk assessments and develops coverages for their insureds. Jim offered fascinating insight about the difficulties presented during forensic investigation of cyber-security breaches, the resulting implications for loss coverage and reservation of rights. Mike Aylward kept the panelists focused and helped frame the hour-long discussion through his introduction and questions. In sum, the panel presentation was topical, informative, and very well-attended.

more Calendar

7/24/2017 » 7/29/2017
2017 FDCC Annual Meeting/ Bridging The Gap Insurance Summit

9/17/2017 » 9/19/2017
Corporate Counsel Symposium

10/23/2017 » 10/24/2017
2017 Fall Deposition Boot Camp

11/9/2017 » 11/10/2017
I3 Registration

Featured Members
Marjorie J. BergerMarjorie is with American Nuclear Insurers in CT
Bradford D. BoxBrad Box is with Rainey, Kizer, Reviere & Bell in TN

Special Thanks

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