Environmental Litigation

Plains All American Santa Barbara Oil Spill

Issue: Pipeline rupture resulting in oil spill off Refugio State Beach in California

September 2018 Update in the Plains Oil Spill Case

On September 7, 2018, Plains All American Pipeline was found guilty of nine criminal charges for causing the worst California coastal spill in 25 years, a disaster that blackened popular beaches for miles, killed wildlife and hurt tourism and fishing. The jury in Santa Barbara County found Houston-based Plains guilty of one felony count of failure to properly maintain its pipeline and eight other misdemeanor charges, including the killing of marine mammals and protected sea birds. The company still faces the federal class-action lawsuit described below brought by Lieff Cabraser on behalf of owners of affected beachfront property, fishing boat operators, and petroleum industry and oil workers who lost jobs because of the spill.

Previous Developments and Background on the Case

In Andrews, et al. v. Plains All American Pipeline, et al., No. 2:15-cv-04113-PSG-JEM (C.D. Cal.), Lieff Cabraser serves as Court-appointed Class Counsel in the action arising from an oil spill in Santa Barbara County in May 2015. A pipeline owned by Plains ruptured, and oil from the pipeline flowed into the Pacific Ocean, soiling beaches and impacting local fisheries. Lieff Cabraser represents homeowners who lost the use of the beachfront amenity that they pay a premium for, local oil platform workers who were laid off as a result of the spill and subsequent closure of the pipeline, as well as fishers whose catch was impacted by the oil spill.

Plaintiffs allege that defendants did not follow basic safety protocols when they installed the pipeline, failed to properly monitor and maintain the pipeline, ignored clear signs that the pipeline was corroded and in danger of bursting, and failed to promptly respond to the oil spill when the inevitable rupture occurred.

In April 2018, the Federal District Court certified a subclass of private property owners and lessees with real property near the soiled shoreline that had been harmed by the spill. The Court had previously certified a class action composed of fishers whose catch diminished as a result of the spill, and fish industry businesses that were affected as a result of the decimated fish population. Lieff Cabraser has also filed a motion to certify additional classes of groups harmed by the spill, including oil industry workers and businesses that suffered economic injuries associated with the closure of the pipeline.

Contact Lieff Cabraser

If you have suffered an economic loss or property damage because of the Santa Barbara oil spill, please contact Lieff Cabraser for a free, no obligation review of your claim.

Lieff Cabraser possesses the expertise and financial resources to thoroughly investigate environmental cases and hold the defendants accountable. We have successfully prosecuted cases against many of the world’s most powerful corporations obtaining multiple billions of dollars in recoveries, including for families, businesses and property owners. Our notable environmental disaster and toxic exposure cases include: BP Gulf of Mexico Oil Disaster, Kingston, Tennessee TVA Coal Ash Spill, and Exxon Valdez Oil Spill.


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