Five law firms representing the six class action cases currently filed against Plains All American Pipeline stemming from the May 19, 2015 oil pipeline rupture near Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara County have agreed to consolidate their efforts in a September 15, 2015 motion made to the United States District Court in Los Angeles.
The five firms, acting as interim class counsel are Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP; Keller Rohrback LLP; Cappello & Noël LLP; Audet & Partners, LLP and Kazerouni Law Group, APC. Each firm has filed at least one class action complaint. Lieff Cabraser and Keller Rohrback are proposed as interim co-lead counsel. Cappello & Noël was chosen to be lead trial counsel with managing partner A. Barry Cappello in charge of the trial team.
“In order to prevail over Plains Pipeline and to push for safeguards to prevent future ruptures and the resulting catastrophic consequences, all the plaintiffs’ lawyers who represent the various class cases have agreed to team up and unite to fight together,” says Cappello. “These teams of lawyers will push this case to a successful conclusion. That conclusion will be to ensure that the past does not repeat itself, that all the affected businesses, property owners and workers who lost their jobs are adequately compensated for the damage caused them by Plains’ willful violations of the laws designed to protect our environment.”
Cappello’s legal career was defined early in the 1970s when, as the City Attorney for Santa Barbara, he led a team that prosecuted oil companies responsible for the devastating 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill. That lawsuit led to the enactment of major anti-pollution laws that are still on the books today.
Lieff Cabraser was co-counsel representing property owners, business owners, wage earners and other harmed parties in class action litigation against BP, Transocean, Halliburton and other defendants for the Deepwater Horizon oilrig explosion and resulting oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010. Keller Rohrback represented fishermen, landowners, and businesses located in Prince William Sound in their action against Exxon to recover damages caused by the Exxon Valdez oil spill.
“When oil companies take short cuts, when they ignore their obligation to protect us all, we have these disasters and the resulting losses,” says Cappello. “The plaintiffs’ firms against Plains have vast experience litigating against polluting energy companies. We are committed to ensure that our clients are fully compensated. We are also expecting that governmental agencies whose job it is to prosecute violations such as those committed by Plains, also take action. To date, only private lawyers are acting. This inaction by governmental agencies has been very disappointing, but maybe we will see our prosecuting agencies step up.”