Plains Oil Spill Litigation Resource Center
This website is maintained by the law firms identified below, to provide access to information and documents related to the class action lawsuit filed against Plains All American. The lawsuit was filed to recover losses suffered as a result of the massive oil spill on May 19, 2015 from an underground pipeline owned by Plains, located along the coastline near Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara County, California.
Current Case Status
FISHER CLASS IS CERTIFIED: On February 28, 2017, Judge Gutierrez ruled that fishing businesses affected by the oil spill could move forward with their class action lawsuit against the oil company as a certified class. This includes fishers and both wholesale and retail businesses that purchased and re-sold the commercial seafood. In that same order, the Court appointed Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, Keller Rohrback L.L.P., Cappello & Noel LLP, and Audet & Partners, LLP as Lead Counsel for the class action. For more information, including how to participate, how to exclude yourself, and information about your rights as a class member if you have filed or intend to file a claim directly with Plains under the Oil Pollution Act (“OPA”) please see the explanation about the fisher class below or the Frequently Asked Questions here.
OIL INDUSTRY CLASS IS CERTIFIED: On July 12, 2017, Plaintiffs’ renewed their request for the court to certify the oil industry and property owner classes. On February 9, 2018, Judge Gutierrez certified an Oil Industry Class that can now move forward with their class action lawsuit against the oil company as a certified class. The Oil Industry Class is defined as:
Individuals and entities who were employed, or contracted, to work on or to provide supplies, personnel, or services for the operations of the off-shore oil drilling platforms, Hidalgo, Harvest, Hermosa, Heritage, Harmony, Hondo, and/or Holly, off the Santa Barbara County coast, or the on-shore processing facilities at Las Flores/POPCO, Gaviota, and/or Venoco/Ellwood, as of May 19, 2015.
In his order, Judge Gutierrez also appointed Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, Keller Rohrback L.L.P., Cappello & Noel LLP, and Audet & Partners, LLP as Lead Counsel for the Oil Industry Class and appointed the Moving Plaintiffs as class representatives.
REAL PROPERTY CLASS IS CERTIFIED: On March 5, 2018, Plaintiffs’ renewed their request for the court to certify the real property class. On April 17, 2018, Judge Gutierrez certified a Real Property Class that can now move forward with their class action lawsuit against the oil company as a certified class. The Real Property Class is defined as:
Residential beachfront properties on a beach and residential properties with a private easement to a beach (collectively “Included Properties”) where oil from the 2015 Santa Barbara oil spill washed up, and where the oiling was categorized as Heavy, Moderate or Light, as identified in Exhibit A to Plaintiffs’ renewed motion.
Excluded from the proposed Subclass are: (1) Defendants, any entity or division in which Defendants have a controlling interest, and their legal representatives, officers, directors, employees, assigns and successors; and (2) the judge to whom this case is assigned, the judge’s staff, and any member of the judge’s immediate family.
In his order, Judge Gutierrez also appointed Plaintiffs Baciu Family LLC, Alexandra Geremia, Jacques Habra, and Mark and Mary Kirkhart to serve as Subclass Representatives. Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, Keller Rohrback L.L.P., Cappello & Noel LLP, and Audet & Partners, LLP were appointed to serve as Class Counsel.
To view copies of the Judge’s orders, the renewed motion for class certification or other key documents, click here.
TOURISM CLASS: On February 28, 2017, Judge Gutierrez also denied Plaintiffs motion to certify the tourism subclass, defined as:
Businesses in operation on May 19, 2015 that provided services such as attracting, transporting, accommodating, or catering to the needs or wants of persons traveling to, or staying in, places outside their home community, located from the south coast of Santa Barbara County (from Gaviota to the eastern Santa Barbara County line) to the coastal zone of Ventura County (defined as the beach-harbor- seaport area from the western Ventura County line to Point Mugu).
The court ruled that this group of claimants cannot proceed as a group.
Options for Non-Class Members
If you are not a member of one of the certified classes but believe you were affected by the Plains oil spill, you may wish to consult an attorney, to consider filing a claim or lawsuit against Plains under state law, or to consider filing a claim directly with Plains, under the federal Oil Pollution Act (“OPA”). For more information about OPA, please refer to the U.S. Coast Guard’s OPA claim website: https://www.uscg.mil/Mariners/National-Pollution-Funds-Center/Claims. Be aware that important deadlines are approaching that may affect your rights.
Information for Affected Fishing and Seafood Businesses
On February 28, 2017, Judge Gutierrez ruled that fishing businesses affected by the oil spill could move forward with their class action lawsuit against the oil company as a certified class. This includes fishers and both wholesale and retail businesses that purchased and re-sold the commercial seafood.
Who is in the fish industry subclass? The fishing subclass is defined as:
Persons or entities who owned or worked on a vessel that landed seafood within the California Department of Fish & Wildlife fishing blocks 651 to 657, 664 to 671, 681 to 683, as well as persons or entities who owned or worked on a vessel that landed groundfish, including but not limited to sablefish, halibut and rockfish, in fishing blocks 631 to 633, 637 to 639, 643 to 645, 658 to 659, and 684 to 690, between May 19, 2010 and May 19, 2015 and were in operation as of May 19, 2015, as well as those persons and businesses who purchased and re-sold commercial seafood so landed, at the retail or wholesale level, that were in operation as of May 19, 2015.
The fishing blocks that are included in the subclass are highlighted in this map:
Class members’ options: At this point, the Court has not decided whether Plains Pipeline did anything wrong. If you are a class member, your rights are affected, and you have a choice to make now as to whether to participate in the class action lawsuit or to opt out of the class.
Plains OPA Claims Process Information: The lawsuit does not include claims based on the federal Oil Pollution Act (“OPA”) statute, but does seek to recover all damages suffered by class members as a result of the oil spill, including some types of relief that are not available through the OPA process, such as punitive damages and damages for future losses that may occur as a result of the oil spill. As a class member, you may continue to request payment for your OPA claim directly from Plains Pipeline. Any money you get through the OPA claims process may be deducted from the amount of funds you would be entitled to recover in the class action. If you make a claim for losses directly to Plains or Plains’ claims administrator, you may be asked to a sign a release in exchange for payment. If you have questions about how that release may affect your legal rights, contact the attorneys below for a consultation.
Andrews, et al. v. Plains All American Pipeline, LP
United States District Court, Central District of California
Case No. 2:15-cv-04113