Judge Approves $230 Million Settlement for 2015 Refugio Oil Spill Class Action Suit

Judge Approves $230 Million Settlement for 2015 Refugio Oil Spill Class Action Suit title=
2015 Oil Spill in Refugio (Photo: US Coast Guard)
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By the edhat staff

A Federal Judge gave final approval of a $230 million class action settlement from the Plains All American Pipeline oil spill at Refugio Beach in 2015.

On September 20, Federal District Court Judge Philip S. Gutierrez's final approval clears the way for the settlement administrator to begin processing and paying claims submitted by affected fishers and property owners. The settlement was achieved by Class Counsel Cappello & Noël LLP, Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP, Keller Rohrback LLP, and Audet & Partners. 

The settlement includes $184 million to a class of fishers and processors who operated in the areas impacted by the oil spill, as well as $46 million to compensate owners and lessees of property affected by the spill. These amounts, net of attorneys’ fees, costs, and administration expenses, will be distributed to class members who timely submit claims, based on a court-approved distribution plan. 

Before the spill, 130 miles of Plains-operated pipeline was used to transport crude oil from the Gaviota coast in Santa Barbara County to inland refineries in California. Due to failed maintenance and extensive pipeline corrosion, the pipeline ruptured and spilled, killing wildlife, devastating the fishing industry, and soiling coastal properties from Santa Barbara County to Los Angeles County.

Plains was found criminally liable in 2018 for the oil spill, and this civil settlement was reached as the parties prepared for a civil jury trial slated for June 2022.

Individuals who believe they may be eligible may contact the court-appointed administrator, JND Legal, to obtain further information about the settlement, determine whether they are members of the class and, if so, submit their claim forms. The deadline to file a claim is October 31, 2022. 

Information about the settlement, including copies of the claim form and instructions on how to submit a claim, are available via the dedicated settlement website, or by contacting JND via email (info@PlainsOilSpilSettlement.com), telephone (1-844-202-9486) or mail (Plains Oil Spill Settlement c/o JND Legal Administration, P.O. Box 91450, Seattle, WA 98111). 

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