Fire Victim Trust

On February 2, 2023, the Trust sent additional letters in support of legislation to amend IRS Code of 1986 for certain fire survivors' claimants. Read the February 2 letters here and the earlier November 14 letters here.

On January 11, 2023, the Trust announced a pro rata payment increase to 60% following additional stock sales.  Read the press release here.

On December 15, 2022, the Trust announced the sale of 60 million shares of PG&E stock, resolution of the 10th opt-out claim, and issuance 90% of all Determination Notices.  Read the press release here.

Welcome to The Official Fire Victim Trust Website

Under the direction of Cathy Yanni (Trustee), the Fire Victim Trust is ever-focused on resolving Fire Victims’ claims to help them recover and move on successfully with their lives.

The Trust reviews claims and issues Determination Notices daily and disburses payments twice monthly, compensating Fire Victims for economic and non-economic damages caused by the 2015 Butte, 2017 North Bay, and 2018 Camp Fires, including destruction or damage to real estate and personal property, additional living expenses, lost wages, business losses, emotional distress, personal injury or death and related medical expenses.

In addition to the program statistics below, you can access Trust information using the Information and FAQs menu tabs above.  Prior Trustee updates are included on the Documents page here.  Claimants (or their lawyers, if represented) can access their confidential claims information, notices, and other program materials by logging into their secure Portal account here.

A Message from the Trustee of the Fire Victim Trust

March 3, 2023

In this month’s post, I want to focus on the subject of minors’ claims and how the Fire Victim Trust works to help children recover from physical and emotional injuries caused by the California fires. We interviewed The Honorable Ellen Sickles James (Ret.), who is the Special Master for Minor Compromises, to tell us about this critical part of the Fire Victim Trust relief effort.

When were you appointed as Special Master and why?
In compliance with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, I was appointed Special Master by the Honorable Haywood S. Gilliam (United States District Court, Northern District of California), on December 2, 2020.  My role is to protect the interests of minors and incapacitated adults in adjudicating their claims filed with the Fire Victim Trust.

What is a Minor's Compromise?  
A Minor's Compromise is when an adult signs on behalf of a child so the child can receive money. The law doesn't allow the child to sign for him or herself until s/he becomes an adult at the age of 18.

What are your duties?
I’ve handled over 1,000 claims for minors in the Fire Victim Trust, and the stories of what these children went through are harrowing.  Physical injuries, loss of family and friendships, and destruction of treasured possessions and homes.  It’s a lot to handle when you’re a child and the impact can be long lasting, disrupting many aspects of their lives.  My job is to make sure these children feel supported and are fairly compensated for their suffering.  It is also my job to make sure any funds awarded to them are protected and available only for their use upon reaching adulthood using, for example, structured settlements and blocked bank accounts.

What is the process for filing a minors’ claim?
The amount of the award and whether the minor has legal representation or not determines the process. After accepting a Determination Notice, the Claimant must complete and submit a Petition to Approve Compromise and a Proposed Order, both of which are available on the Portal.  For Claimants represented by an attorney, the Special Master will require a hearing via Zoom for all awards over $50,000; the Special Master can review awards under $50,000 on the papers but may require a hearing at her discretion. For pro se Claimants (those not represented by lawyers), the Special Master will always require a hearing, even when the award is less than $50,000.

Why can’t minors claims be incorporated into their parents’ claims?
It’s all about protecting awards for the use of the minor. While most parents only want the best for their children, there’s a risk that some may not always act in their children’s best interests.  In the early 1900s, child actor Jackie Coogan, who had made millions working in Hollywood, discovered upon reaching adulthood that his parents had spent his entire fortune and he was left with nothing.  In 1939, a law was passed in California that money earned and accumulated under a valid contract remains the sole legal property of the minor child.  Similarly, FVT awards to minors are treated as their property and are separate from any awards made to their parents. This is not to say parents are not involved in the claims process.  They can act as the minor’s legal representative and must appear in court with the minor, but there cannot be any co-mingling of minors’ and parents’ claims and awards. 

How are attorneys’ fees approved in Minors Compromises?
When I became Special Master, one of my first tasks was to simplify the fee rate structure for minors’ claims.  I wanted to eliminate the range of fees being charged — some as high as 40% — and replace the highest fee rate at no more than 25%.

Trustee Update

As of February 28, 2023, the Trust had issued Determination Notices on 94% of submitted CQs and paid $8.5 billion to Claimants.  The percentage of accepted and finalized Determination Notice is above 81%.  We continue working with law firms and pro se Claimants to increase notice acceptances.


Alternate Text

Cathy Yanni

Program Statistics

(As of 3/15/23)

Claimants with Submitted Claims Questionnaires (CQs)
Submitted CQs
Claims Asserted
Claimants with Determination Notices
64,446 (94%)
CQs with Determination Notices Issued
35,074 (94%)
CQs with Accepted Determination Notices
30,504 (82%)
Paid Claimants
53,609 (78%)
Amount Paid
$8.66 billion
Amount Awarded
$15.95 billion
Payments by Month (Last Six Months)
Submitted Claims Questionnaires - 37,146
Total Payments Issued



Butte Fire


North Bay Wildfires (includes 22 major fires)


Camp Fire


PG&E filed for bankruptcy protection


Cathy Yanni appointed Administrator of Wildfire Assistance Program


PG&E and Tort Claimants Committee reached $13.5 billion settlement


Hon. John K. Trotter (ret.) and Cathy Yanni appointed Trustee and Claims Administrator of the Fire Victim Trust (FVT)


Bankruptcy Court confirmed PG&E’s Chapter 11 Plan of Reorganization


FVT established and funded with $5.4 billion cash and PG&E stock


FVT began accepting claims information on FVT Portal


Claims Questionnaire available


FVT began issuing Preliminary Payments to Fire Victims


Original Claims Questionnaire filing deadline (later extended to 2/26/21)


$758 million cash payment received from PG&E


Claims Questionnaire filing deadline (extended from 12/31/20)


FVT began issuing Pro Rata Payments to Fire Victims


$1B Awarded in Determination Notices


$2B Awarded in Determination Notices


$3B Awarded in Determination Notices


$4B Awarded in Determination Notices


$5B Awarded in Determination Notices


$592 million cash payment received from PG&E


$6B Awarded in Determination Notices


$7B Awarded in Determination Notices


$8B Awarded in Determination Notices


$9B Awarded in Determination Notices


$10B Awarded in Determination Notices


Cathy Yanni becomes Trustee of the Fire Victim Trust


$11B Awarded in Determination Notices


$12B Awarded in Determination Notices


$5B Paid to Fire Victims


$13B Awarded in Determination Notices


$14B Awarded in Determination Notices


$15B Awarded in Determination Notices


$6B Paid to Fire Victims


$8B Paid to Fire Victims

Claims Process Overview

The Claims Resolution Procedures approved in PG&E’s bankruptcy cases require the Trust to issue a single Determination Notice that includes all claims in each Claims Questionnaire. This creates a multi-step process under which if even one claim is missing information, the Trust must notify the Fire Victim (or their lawyer, if represented) and await supplemental documents before finalizing its review and issuing a Determination Notice.

After receiving sufficient information for all claims, the Trust issues a Determination Notice that includes an aggregate award for all of the claims. Fire Victims may accept this initial determination or may request additional review and submit supplemental claim materials as part of the Reconsideration and Appeals processes. After Appeal (or any earlier point at which the Fire Victim accepts their determination), the determination becomes final, and the claims move into the payment process.

The Trust issues Determination Notices daily and issues payments twice a month. Because the Trust is a limited fund and bankruptcy laws, court order, and the Trust Documents require that eligible Fire Victims each receive an equal proportion of their awards, Fire Victims receive payments in pro rata installments commensurate with the total cash funding currently available to the Trust.

© 2023 BrownGreer PLC. All rights reserved.