Lieff Cabraser Civil Justice Blog

Federal Judge Certifies Subclass in Santa Barbara Plains Oil Spill Lawsuit

As reported by Law360, Judge Philip S. Gutierrez of the United States District Court for the Central District of California has issued an order certifying a subclass of fishers, fish buyers, and other affected businesses in litigation against Plains All American Pipeline LP relating to the 2015 Refugio State Beach oil spill in Santa Barbara. The spill occurred in May of 2015 when a 10-mile-long, 24-inch-wide oil pipeline ruptured and discharged over 100,000 gallons of crude oil onto beaches and into the Pacific Ocean, contaminating several State Marine Conservation Areas and forcing the closure of beaches, fishing grounds, and shellfish operations.

Judge Gutierrez’s Order set a subclass for the fishers and fishermen and those who bought fish from the commercial fishermen working in affected areas of the Santa Barbara coastline, observing that with respect to these plaintiffs common questions predominated over any individual questions in the litigation.

Lieff Cabraser attorney Robert J. Nelson, who represents the subclass plaintiffs, commented that the order was a “big win.” He told Law360,

“These plaintiffs have been out of work for more than two years as a result of Plains’ negligence. The gist of the order is that these plaintiffs’ valuable negligence claims can proceed to trial, and we very much look forward to that opportunity.”

Learn more about the Santa Barbara/Plains Oil Spill case.

Lieff Cabraser’s Environmental Protection Work

Lieff Cabraser is at the forefront of environmental lawsuits prosecuting cases against many of the world’s most powerful corporations, obtaining compensation for families and property owners harmed by toxic environmental exposures. Our notable successes include the co-representation of 69 families in Toms River, New Jersey with children whose cancer was linked to environmental contamination caused by Ciba, Union Carbide, and United Water Resources; work as co-lead Class Counsel in a suit against Unocal arising from a series of toxic releases from Unocal’s refinery in Rodeo, California and leading to a settlement of $80 million on behalf of 10,000 individuals; and our work as co-lead counsel in the nationwide class action against DuPont charging that its herbicide Imprelis caused widespread death among trees and other non-targeted vegetation across the U.S. where approximately $400 million was paid to 25,000 claimants.