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Keller Rohrback L.L.P: Plains All American Pipeline Agrees to Pay $230 Million to Settle Class Action Lawsuit Relating to 2015 Santa Barbara Oil Spill Disaster

Keller Rohrback L.L.P. is pleased to announce that Plains All American Pipeline (NASDAQ: PAA) (Plains) has agreed to pay a total of $230 million to resolve the class action litigation brought by members of the local Santa Barbara fishing community and local property owners, stemming from the May 19, 2015 oil spill in Santa Barbara County.

The settlement agreement comes nearly seven years after a severely corroded underground oil pipeline owned and operated by Plains failed near Refugio State Beach, dumping thousands of gallons of crude oil into one of the most biologically diverse area of the West Coast, killing marine life, fouling coastline, and disrupting local industry.

Nationally recognized environmental and complex litigation law firm, Keller Rohrback L.L.P., was the first firm to file suit on behalf of members of what would become the fisher class in 2015. Keller Rohrback, along with co-counsel, successfully fought through several rounds motions to dismiss, summary judgment, and decertification, and endured a long trial delay as a result of the Covid pandemic, before the case was finally resolved, a few weeks before the anticipated June, 2022 trial. Plains has agreed to pay $184 million to members of the Fisher Class and $46 million to the Property Class, subject to Court approval.

Matthew Preusch, a partner in Keller Rohrback’s Santa Barbara office said “This settlement should serve as a reminder that pollution just can’t be a cost of doing business, and that corporations will be held accountable for environmental damage they cause.”

Keller Rohrback partner Juli Farris elaborated on the impact that this settlement would have, stating: “The Gaviota Coast is a special place, and Plains’ 2015 oil spill was devastating to that area. This settlement will bring some hard-won relief to the people who live along the Central and Southern California coast and those who rely on the region’s rich fisheries for their livelihoods.”

Keller Rohrback Managing Partner, Lynn Sarko, who was deeply involved in both the Plains and Exxon Valdez cases said “I am very proud of the hard work that the Keller Rohrback team has put into this lawsuit and in brokering this settlement with Plains. I am honored to be part of an organization that fights to hold corporations accountable for polluting our air, water and natural resources.”

The case name is Andrews et al. v. Plains All American Pipeline, L.P. et al., and is pending before the Hon. Philip Gutierrez in the Central District of California. More information about the settlement is included in a motion for preliminary approval of the settlement, submitted to the federal court yesterday. If the court preliminarily approves the settlement, information will be sent to class members about the settlement before the court holds a fairness hearing to decide whether to grant final approval to the settlement.

Click here to view the Motion For Preliminary Approval.

About Keller Rohrback L.L.P.

Keller Rohrback is not new to oil spill-related litigation, having been one of the firms to represent the class in the prosecution of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill litigation. That spill, which occurred when the Exxon Valdez oil tanker ran aground in Prince William Sound Alaska in March of 1989, spilled 11 million gallons of oil into the pristine waters, devastating coastline and fishery-related industry for years to come. Keller Rohrback was also appointed by the district court to administer the claims program in the Exxon case, ultimately distributing over $1 billion in awards and interest to affected fishers, property owners and other class members.

Keller Rohrback L.L.P. is a law firm with offices in seven locations throughout the country. Keller Rohrback’s environmental lawyers have a long history of successfully representing individuals and class members in a wide range of important environmental litigation. Whether working for victims of oil spills, fires, communities exposed to toxic materials, or people who purchased contaminated or defective products, Keller Rohrback’s team of experienced environmental litigators have helped to protect people and the environment across the country.


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