A United States District Court judge ruled February 28 that fishing businesses affected by the May 2015 Plains All American pipeline spill in Santa Barbara County can move forward with their class action lawsuit against the oil company. The judge denied plaintiffs’ request for certification of three other subclasses, but indicated that he would consider certification of a narrower group of subclasses. (Keith Andrews, et. al. vs. Plains All American Pipeline, L.P., Case No. 2:15-CV-04113-PSG-JEM, U.S. District Court, Central District of Calif., August 22, 2016, Judge Philip S. Gutierrez.)
Claims brought on behalf of members of the fishing subclass will proceed with additional discovery including depositions of key Plains employees. The plaintiffs intend to file a renewed motion for class certification on behalf of the remaining subclasses, consistent with the court’s order.
On May 19, 2015, a Plains oil pipeline ruptured and spilled approximately 140,000 gallons of oil near Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara County causing damage to property and businesses. An investigation showed that the pipeline rupture was due to maintenance neglect and extensive pipeline corrosion. In addition to a number of civil lawsuits, Plains faces 46 counts of criminal charges brought by the County of Santa Barbara.
The following firms have been representing plaintiffs since the cases were filed: Cappello & Noël LLP; Keller Rohrback LLP; Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP; and Audet & Partners. In its order, the district court appointed these firms as Lead Counsel for the class action.