$230 Million Class Action Settlement Reached From 2015 Santa Barbara Oil Spill
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2015 Santa Barbara Oil Spill Cappello & Noel
Plains All American Pipeline has agreed to pay $230 million to fishers, fish processors and shoreline property residents.

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - WisconsinEagle -- Plains All American Pipeline has agreed to pay $230 million to fishers, fish processors and shoreline property residents who are members of two classes in a class action lawsuit filed against the company after a corroded pipeline spilled an estimated 15,000 barrels of crude oil into the Pacific Ocean in 2015. The class members are represented by Cappello & Noël LLP, Lieff Cabraser LLP, Keller Rohrback LLP and Audet & Partners. (Keith Andrews et al. v. Plains All American Pipeline, L.P., Case No. 2:15-cv-04113-PSG-JEMx)

Plains operated 130 miles of pipeline used to transport crude oil from the Santa Barbara coast to inland refinery markets in California.

Due to failed maintenance and extensive pipeline corrosion, Plains was found criminally liable in 2018 for the oil spill. The spill devastated the fishing industry and polluted coastal properties from Santa Barbara County to Los Angeles County. These class members will now be compensated for their damages.

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The plaintiffs' team was headed by three law firms. They include Cappello & Noël (https://cappellonoel.com/category/santa-barbara-oil-spill-litigation) with partners A. Barry Cappello, Leila Noël, Larry Conlan and David Cousineau (Cappello litigated the 1969 Union Oil spill in Santa Barbara, the environmental disaster that ignited the environmental movement in the U.S.); Robert Nelson of Lieff Cabraser with Wilson Dunleavey and Nimish Desai (Lieff Cabraser and Nelson have represented class members in large class action litigations including environmental disasters such as BP-Horizon); and Lynn Sarko, Juli Farris and Matt Preusch of Keller Rohrback (whose class action experience includes the Exxon Valdez oil spill litigation).  The three teams were assisted by William Audet and his firm Audet & Partners LLP.

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The matter is now before Judge Gutierrez for approval. If and when approval is obtained, class members will be notified and a court-approved plan of distribution will be created with $184 million distributed among the Fisher class and $46 million distributed among the Property class.

This settlement resolves one of two federal class actions the plaintiffs' lawyers brought relating to the spill. A separate suit for owners of property where the pipeline broke and where Plains is attempting to put in an entirely new pipeline is still pending in federal court.

The plaintiff law firms also filed separate lawsuits on behalf of hundreds of workers and small businesses who were damaged when the oil spill decimated the local offshore oil industry that depended on the pipeline. Those claims are being litigated in Santa Barbara.

Diane Rumbaugh

Source: Cappello & Noël LLP

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