Offshore Oil Workers File Lawsuits Against Plains All American Pipeline
Oil platforms off Santa Barbara coast (file photo)
Source: Office of Cappello & Noël LLP
Lawsuits were filed May 18, 2020 in Santa Barbara Superior Court against Plains All American Pipeline by oil workers and service companies supporting offshore oil rigs. The plaintiffs lost their livelihoods when the May 2015 oil spill shut down oil drilling offshore Santa Barbara. Peter Trejo et. al. vs. Plains All American Pipeline, L.P., SB Superior Court, May 18, 2020, Case No. 20CV01872; Jeffrey Bowen et. al. vs. Plains All American Pipeline, L.P., SB Superior Court, May 18, 2020, Case No. 20CV01873
The investigation into the oil spill shows that more than 10,000 barrels of oil poured out of Plains’ broken pipeline and into the Pacific Ocean on May 19, 2015. The spill was due to failed maintenance and extensive pipeline corrosion. Plains All American Pipeline was found criminally liable for the oil spill, and local offshore oil industry jobs were decimated.
"The oil workers and businesses worked on and supported the seven offshore oil platforms and three onshore processing facilities in the channel when the pipeline rupture and oil spill occurred. They have yet to see justice from the legal system or from Plains," says A. Barry Cappello, managing partner of Cappello & Noël LLP and lead trial attorney for the plaintiffs.
According to the complaints, the unlawful discharge of oil into marine waters and resulting shutdown of oil and gas operations was a direct result of defendants’ failure to adequately and safely maintain the pipeline. "Even after Plains was criminally convicted for the spill, it has denied responsibility for the reckless destruction it has caused, and the plaintiffs have been left to suffer huge financial harm for years," the filings say.
The plaintiffs are seeking all recoverable tort damages under common law and the Lempert-Keene-Seastrand Oil Spill Prevention and Response Act (OSPRA), which provides that “[a] responsible party, as defined in Section 8670.3, shall be absolutely liable without regard to fault for any damages incurred by any injured party which arise out of, or are caused by, a spill.” Gov. Code, § 8670.56.5, subd. (a)
"These workers and small businesses were the life blood of the local oil industry," says Lawrence Conlan, partner at Cappello & Noël. "The oil spill killed hundreds of jobs and turned their lives upside down. They will continue to demand justice."
Cappello & Noël, Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, Keller Rohrback LLP and Audet & Partners are jointly representing the plaintiffs.