Santa Barbara Oil Spill

Santa Barbara Oil Spill Class Actions

Cappello & Noël has filed class action lawsuits against Plains All American Pipeline arising out of the May 19, 2015 oil pipeline spill near Santa Barbara that discharged over 140,000 gallons of toxic crude oil onto the California coastline. The first lawsuit was filed June 23, 2015 on behalf of oceanfront and beachfront property owners and lessees from Point Conception to San Diego. The second lawsuit was filed on September 4, 2015 on behalf of oil industry workers who were laid off as a result of the spill

Property Owners Lawsuit Overview

The lawsuit alleges that Plains’ Line 901 pipeline that runs adjacent to the shoreline lacked an automatic shut-off system that would have prevented such a large oil spill from occurring. Federal agencies have cited Plains for at least 175 safety and maintenance violations since 2006. The oil spill’s impact has spread far beyond Santa Barbara County. Results of studies released June 22, 2015 by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts and UC Santa Barbara show tar balls from the spill have washed up on Ventura County and Los Angeles County beaches.

The lawsuit states, “The beachfront properties along the Central Coast of California, like coastal properties throughout the state, are highly valuable. The property owners enjoy the unspoiled sand and water, direct access to fishing, surfing, kayaking and other activities. The waters and beaches are home to hundreds of sensitive animal species, and serve as the backbone of the local economy. All that has been damaged by Defendants’ oil spill and that damage will likely last for decades.”

Alexandra B. Geremia et.al. v Plains All American Pipeline
(United States District Court, Central District of Calif., Case No. 2:15-cv-04759-DMG-AS)

Oil Industry Workers Lawsuit Overview

The proposed class consists of more than 100 individuals. It includes “all individuals working in the oil and gas industry on or near the Central Coast of California, whether as employees or independent contractors, and whether offshore or onshore, who have lost earnings or had their ability to earn impaired as a result of Defendants’ May 19, 2015 oil spill from Line 901.”

Richard Lilygren v. Plains All American Pipeline
(U.S. District Court, Central California, Case No. 2:15-cv-07051)

Property Owners With Plains’ Pipeline Easements – Class Action Overview


Crews repair the damaged line 901 belonging to Plains All American Pipeline.
(Santa Barbara News-Press)

Proposed class members own property in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Kern counties on which defective Plains’ pipelines are located. Class members signed easement agreements with Plains’ predecessor, Celeron Pipeline Company of California, allowing the company to run its pipelines on their property.

Once the May 2015 rupture of Plains’ Line 901 occurred, spilling 140,000 gallons of crude oil, it was quickly apparent that the size of the easement for future pipeline maintenance, repair and replacement was not large enough to handle the machinery, workers and staging areas needed to restore the pipeline.

The class action seeks increased easement payments to property owners from Plains for the additional access necessary to repair or restore the hundreds of miles of defective pipeline. It is also asking that Plains improve safety procedures and technology so a pipeline rupture will not occur again.

For a copy of the complaint, click here.

About Our Firm

Cappello & Noël is nationally recognized as a champion of individuals and small businesses in litigation against financial institutions, multi-billion-dollar corporations, toxic polluters and big government. In 1969, managing partner Barry Cappello, then the Santa Barbara City Attorney, was the chief litigator against Union Oil, Mobil, Gulf and Texaco for a massive Santa Barbara Channel oil spill. Because of his tenacity and his commitment to the community and the environment, the fight was successful and the oil companies were ordered to pay millions of dollars in fines and cleanup costs. The disaster and the ensuing litigation awakened the nation’s consciousness to the dangers to the environment and the consequences if not protected. See July 20, 2015 Los Angeles Times article.

Contact Us

Cappello & Noël’s investigation into the oil spill is ongoing

If you are a witness to the oil spill or its effects on private property or public beaches, or if you believe the Santa Barbara oil spill negatively affected you, your property,  your business or ability to work, please fill out and submit the form below. Cappello & Noël will review your information immediately at no cost or obligation. All information will be kept confidential.

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Santa Barbara Oil Spill & Class Action Case News:

Not Guilty Plea Entered By Oil Company After Major Spill
KEYT-TV, July 29, 2016

Plains ordered to take more corrective actions before restarting Lines 901 and 903
Pacific Coast Business Times, June 16, 2016

Plains’ Request to Seal Oil Spill Transcripts Opposed
Pacific Coast Business Times, June 10, 2016

Pipeline Company Indicted in Santa Barbara Oil Spill
Los Angeles Times, May 17, 2016

Class Action Filed By Property Owners Where Plains Pipeline Located
News release, May 9, 2016

Judge orders plain truth, not Plains truth
Santa Barbara News-Press, March 8, 2016

Plains Suffers Legal Setback
Santa Barbara Independent, March 4, 2016

Judge Denies Plains’ Request to Delay Oil Spill Lawsuit
Pacific Coast Business Times, February 25, 2016

Federal Officials Release Refugio Oil Spill Report With Startling Details
KEYT-TV, February 17, 2016

Plains Accused of Misleading Oil Spill Victims Into Signing Away Rights
Pacific Coast Business Times, December 17, 2015

Plaintiffs Motion for an Order Limiting Defendants Communication

Plains Pipeline to be Purged of Crude
Santa Barbara Independent, November 13, 2015

Environmental Defense Center Urges Plains to Make Change in Wake of Oil Spill
Environmental Defense Center, October 4, 2015

Santa Barbara Oil Spill Class Action Legal Counsel Agree to Consolidate; Cappello & Noël and A. Barry Cappello Named Lead Trial Counsel, Lieff Cabraser and Keller Rohrback, Co-Lead Counsel
News release, September 18, 2015

Oil Industry Workers File Class Action Lawsuit Against Plains All American Pipeline
KEYT-TV, September 14, 2015

Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Plains All American Pipeline by Oil Industry Workers Affected By Santa Barbara Oil Spill
September 14, 2015

Refugio Oil Spill Likely More Larger Than Projected
Santa Barbara Independent, August 5, 2015

Refugio Oil Spill Shows Companies Haven’t Learned Lesson After 46 Years
Op-Ed, Pacific Coast Business Times, July 17, 2015

Homeowner Files Class-Action Suit Over Refugio Oil Spill
Santa Barbara Noozhawk, June 25, 2015

Homeowners Sue Plains All American Pipeline for Refugio Oil Spill
Santa Barbara Independent, June 25, 2015

Homeowner Sues Pipeline Firm in Santa Barbara County Oil Spill
Los Angeles Times, June 25, 2015