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

JURY FINDS PLAINS ALL AMERICAN PIPELINE LP GUILTY OF CRIMINAL CHARGES IN PEOPLE V. PLAINS: On Friday September 8, 2018, the verdict was returned in People v. Plains (Santa Barbara Superior Court Criminal Case No. 1495091). The jury found Plains All American Pipeline (“Plains”), guilty of the felony count of knowingly discharging oil into the waters of California. Plains was also found guilty of knowingly making a false or misleading oil spill report to the California Office of Emergency Services and failing to immediately report any release or threatened release of a hazardous material to emergency agencies upon discovery, both misdemeanor charges. Plains was found guilty of six additional misdemeanor charges including unlawfully allowing a substance/material hazardous to fish, plant and bird life to spill into state waters and beach. In April, the judge overseeing the criminal case issued a $3.3 million fine against Plains as part of its sentence.  The criminal sentencing will also include victim restitution, and the criminal court judge will determine which victims of Plains crimes are entitled to restitution and in what amounts.  Judge Herman has set a deadline of September 26 for submission of victim claims.  For more information, contact class counsel.


OIL INDUSTRY CLASS: On February 9, 2018, Judge Gutierrez certified an Oil Industry Class, 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.

Plains appealed that class certification decision, however, and on July 3, 2019, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the district court’s order. You can review the Ninth Circuit Decision here.

Class Counsel is reviewing options. The Ninth Circuit’s decision means there is no longer a certified Oil Industry Class that is proceeding to trial at this time. Members of the de-certified oil industry class, including workers and small business affected by the Plains oil spill and shutdown, should promptly contact counsel to determine how to proceed with their potential individual claims against Plains, and may contact the attorneys who represented the class at Cappello & Noel LLP, Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, Keller Rohrback L.L.P., and Audet & Partners for further discussion.

REAL PROPERTY CLASS: 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 Plains. 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.

Notice has been mailed to all Class Members; a copy is available hereIf you have questions about whether you are a member of the Real Property Class, please complete the Contact Form available here. You will receive a response confirming whether or not you are a Class Member within two business days.  For more information about how to participate in the class action, or how to exclude yourself, please see the Frequently Asked Questions here.

To view copies of the Judge's orders, the renewed motion for class certification, or other key documents, click here.

FISHER CLASS: On February 28, 2017, Judge Gutierrez ruled that fishing businesses affected by the oil spill could move forward with their class action lawsuit against Plains as a certified class. This includes fishers in the affected area and both wholesale and retail businesses that purchased and re-sold commercial seafood harvested from those fishers. 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 about your rights as a fisher class member, please see the Frequently Asked Questions here.

TOURISM CLASS [NOT CERTIFIED]: On February 28, 2017, Judge Gutierrez  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.

Andrews, et al. v. Plains All American Pipeline, LP 
United States District Court, Central District of California
Case No. 2:15-cv-04113 

Robert J. Nelson
Lieff Cabraser Heimann Bernstein
(415) 956-1000

A. Barry Cappello
Cappello & Noël LLP
(805) 564-2444

Juli E. Farris
Keller Rohrback
(805) 456-1496

William Audet
Audet & Partners
(415) 568-2555