BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A defamation lawsuit filed against PG&E in connection with a deadly pipeline explosion in south Bakersfield is expected to soon go to trial.

Jeff Alexander of Big N Deep Agricultural Development in McFarland alleges PG&E made false statements in a news release, accusing him of multiple “illegal and unsafe” excavations and showing “complete disregard for the law.”

The suit says PG&E, not Alexander, is responsible for the November 13, 2015, explosion near Wible and Houghton Roads that killed bulldozer operator Joseph Michael Ojeda, inflicted second- and third-degree burns to nearby resident Gloria Ruckman and her mother and sent flames soaring above power lines.

According to the suit, Ojeda was digging within coordinates PG&E had cleared after marking its gas line. Alexander claims PG&E’s remarks cost him millions of dollars in business.

PG&E on Tuesday emailed a statement saying, “The safety of our customers, employees, contractors and the communities we serve is PG&E’s top priority. The defendant struck our high-pressured pipelines twice. The second incident resulted in the fatality of the defendant’s employee and injury to nearby residents.”

It says, “We believe strongly in the jury process, which begins today, and look forward to the decision of the citizens of Kern County in this matter.”