2021 Southern California Huntington Beach Newport Beach Oil Spill
“Powerhouse plaintiffs’ firms Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein and Robertson & Associates LLP teamed up to file the class action on behalf of a proposed class of commercial fisheries, marine charters and property owners.” — California Daily Journal, October 13, 2021
August 25, 2022 Statement by Class Plaintiffs’ Counsel co-leads Wylie Aitken, Lexi Hazam, and Stephen Larson regarding settlement with Amplify Energy Corp. and its affiliates:
As a result of extensive negotiations between the parties and under the auspices of mediators Hon. Layn R. Phillips (Ret.) and Hon. Sally Shushan (Ret.), counsel for the Class Plaintiffs and Amplify Energy Corp. and its affiliates have agreed to a resolution of the Class Plaintiffs’ claims against the Amplify entities. The proposed resolution, reached through a mediators’ proposal, includes both monetary and injunctive relief. The detailed terms of the agreement will be finalized between the parties under the supervision of the mediators and will be presented to the Court for approval. The settling parties have further agreed, subject to approval by the Court, to a standstill on litigation and discovery between them while the pending settlement is finalized. Significantly, neither Class Plaintiffs nor the Amplify entities are resolving their claims against the various ship-related entities in either the original federal civil action or the admiralty action, and all rights to continue pursuing claims against the ship related entities are expressly reserved by both the Class Plaintiffs and the Amplify entities.
We are not making any further public statements pending submission of the finalized settlement agreement to Hon. David O. Carter for his approval.
On December 20, 2021, U.S. District Judge David O. Carter of the Central District of California appointed Lieff Cabraser partner Lexi J. Hazam as Interim Co-Lead Counsel in the Orange County Oil Spill Litigation. Judge Carter also appointed three Special Masters to assist the Court in the litigation.
On January 28, 2022, Interim Co-Lead Counsel filed a Consolidated Class Action Complaint on behalf of commercial fishers, local property owners, and waterfront tourism businesses against Amplify Energy Corporation and related co-defendants, as well as shipping companies and their related co-defendants and ships, over the October 2021 pipeline break and oil spill off Huntington Beach, California. That Complaint was amended on March 21, 2022 and states numerous liability claims, and seeks all recoverable compensatory, statutory, and other damages, including remediation costs, as well as injunctive relief.
On Saturday October 2nd, 2021, a failure occurred in a pipeline running from the Port of Long Beach to an offshore oil platform known as Elly, owned by Amplify Energy and operated by Beta Operating Company. The failure caused what is now estimated to be tens of thousands of gallons of oil to gush into the Catalina Channel, creating a slick that spans over 8,000 acres. The spill has left oil along long stretches of beach in Newport Beach, Laguna Beach and Huntington Beach, killing fish and birds and threatening ecologically sensitive wetlands in what officials are calling an environmental disaster. Commercial fishing off this part of the coast is now closed, severely affecting fishers and fish processors throughout the region. Homeowners with beachfront properties or easements are also impacted, as are city beaches.
Experts say the oil will likely continue to encroach on Orange County beaches and they may be closed for months. Officials have indicated they are seeing evidence of oil on numerous beaches, and also noted that the affected area could increase depending on ocean currents. Authorities are continuing to investigate the cause of the spill and say the timeline for cleaning up the area’s beaches remains unclear.
On November 19, 2021, the cargo ship Beijing was identified as the most likely cause of the Huntington spill as its anchor dragged across and cracked the seabed pipeline.
Proven Environmental Disaster Lawyers at Lieff Cabraser
Lieff Cabraser has a long history of leading successful litigation on behalf of those affected by disasters like oil spills, including the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill litigation, the BP Deepwater Horizon litigation, and the Plains Oil Spill in Southern California.