Frequently Asked Questions
for the Oil Industry Class
1. Why was this notice issued?
The court has ruled that claims brought on behalf of the Oil industry Class may proceed as a Class Action.
Judge Philip S. Gutierrez, of the United States District Court for the Central District of California, is the Judge overseeing this case. The case is known as Andrews et al. v. Plains All American Pipeline, L.P., No. 2:15-cv-04113. The people who filed the class action case are called the Plaintiffs. The Defendants in the lawsuit are Plains All American Pipeline, L.P. and Plains Pipeline, L.P. ("Plains Pipeline").
2. What is this lawsuit about?
On May 19, 2015, an underground pipeline known as Line 901 ruptured, resulting in a discharge of crude oil along the coast near Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara County.
The Plaintiffs in the lawsuit claim that the oil spill prevented their ability to work on or provide supplies, personnel, or services for the operations of the off-shore drilling platforms affected by the spill. In this lawsuit, Plaintiffs seek to recover all damages for the injuries suffered by class members resulting from the oil spill. Plains Pipeline denies any claims of wrongdoing and disputes Plaintiffs' claims.
The Court has not decided whether Plaintiffs or Plains Pipeline is right. As in any case, the lawyers for Plaintiffs will have to prove their claims in Court.
3. Why is this a class action?
In a class action, one or more people called "class representatives" bring claims on behalf of themselves and others who have similar claims. All of these people are members of a "class," or "class members." One court and one case resolve the issues for all class members, except for those who exclude themselves from the class. In this case, the class representatives for the Oil Industry Class include: Robert Boydston, Richard Lilygren, and TracTide Marine Corporation. The lawsuit also includes a Fisher Class and Real Property Class.
4. Who is a member of the class?
You are included in the Class if you are an individual or entity 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.
5. Is there any money available now?
No money or benefits are available now, as neither the Court, nor a jury has decided whether Plains Pipeline did anything wrong, and the two sides have not settled the case. The case has not yet been set for trial. There is no guarantee that the case will be successful. If the Class recovers money or benefits, you will be notified how to recover the money owed to you, if any.
Your Rights And Options
You have to decide whether to stay in the Class or to exclude yourself by January 10. 2019.
6. What happens if I do nothing?
If you do nothing, you will automatically remain in the Class. You will be legally bound by all Court orders, good or bad. If there is a monetary judgment or settlement, as a class member, you will have an opportunity to submit a claim in order to participate in the recovery.
7. What if I don't want to be in the Class?
If you decide not to participate in the lawsuit, you must exclude yourself—this is sometimes referred to as "opting out." If you exclude yourself, you will not receive any benefit that may be obtained as a result of this lawsuit, including any money awarded by the Court or Jury. You will not be bound by any Court orders, and you keep your right to sue Plains Pipeline on your own regarding the issues in this case.
If you want to be excluded from the Class, you must either (1) submit an opt-out request here no later than January 10, 2019, or (2) send a letter that includes the following:
Your name, address, and telephone number,
The name of the case (Andrews v. Plains All American Pipeline, No. 2:15-cv-04113),
A statement that you want to be excluded from this Class Action, and
Your signature and date. Mail your exclusion request postmarked no later than January 10, 2019 to:
Santa Barbara Oil Spill Class Action
PO Box 2820
San Francisco, CA 94111-3339
The Lawyers Representing You
8. Do I have a lawyer in the case?
Yes. The Court has appointed the following law firms to represent you and other class members as "Class Counsel":
Robert J. Nelson
Lieff Cabraser Heimann Bernstein
A. Barry Cappello
Cappello & Noel LLP
Juli E. Farris
Keller Rohrback L.L.P.
Audet & Partners
You will not be charged for these lawyers. If you want to be represented by another lawyer, you may hire one to appear in Court for you at your own expense.
9. How will the lawyers be paid?
Attorneys' fees in the class action lawsuit will be decided by the Court. Typically, lawyers are paid a percentage of the recovery obtained on behalf of the class or that amount is separately negotiated by the parties. The attorneys for the class will not be paid any fees out of any interim payments you get through the OPA claims process. The Court must approve of any request for attorneys' fees by the lawyers in the case. No matter what happens, you will not have to pay any attorney fees or expenses out of pocket to the lawyers representing the class.
Will There Be a Trial?
10. How and when will the Court decide who is right?
If the case is not dismissed or settled, Plaintiffs will have to prove their claims at a trial at the First Street Courthouse, 350 West 1st Street, Courtroom 6A, 6th Floor, Los Angeles, California 90012. During the trial, either the Judge or a jury will hear all of the evidence so that a decision can be reached about whether the Plaintiffs or Plains Pipeline is right about the claims in the lawsuit. No trial date has been set at this time.
11. Will I get money after the trial?
If the Plaintiffs obtain money or benefits as a result of a trial or settlement, you will be notified about how to recover the amount owed to you, if any. Important information about the case will be posted on the website, www.PlainsOilSpill.com (http://www.PlainsOilSpill.com), as it becomes available.
Getting More Information
12. How do I get more information?
You can get more information at www.PlainsOilSpill.com, by calling toll free at 1-888-684-6801, writing to Santa Barbara Oil Spill Class Action, PO Box 282, San Francisco, CA 94111-3339, or writing an email to email@example.com.