Attorney Joe Earley and his wife, Ashley, discovered the perfect location for their family dream home in 1999: an old apple orchard on Lovely Lane in Paradise. Earley developed an affection for Paradise as a college student, after his parents moved to the Ridge from San Diego in the ’80s. It’s where he launched his practice, where Ashley and he raised their daughter, Elisabeth, now 21, and son, Joey, now 19.

On Monday (Dec. 3), in front of an audience of more than 200 Camp Fire survivors at Chico’s Elks Lodge, Earley projected an image of his stark white office on the Skyway ablaze against a black sky. He showed a photo of the ashes of his family’s home, of his parents’ home.

There was a collective groan after each image of destruction was displayed. One man called out, “My home looked like that, too.” Another uttered simply, “Sorry.”

Earley wasn’t seeking pity, but solidarity. He has joined three law firms launching a mass civil lawsuit against PG&E, as well as one powerful ally: environmental activist and consumer advocate Erin Brockovich, famous for successfully waging battles against PG&E over the past 20 years.

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