Lawsuit in ’21 oil spill has been settled, pipeline operator says
Wave, The (Huntington Beach, CA)
A settlement has been reached in a class-action lawsuit brought by fishing companies, coastal businesses and property owners looking to recoup losses after last fall’s pipeline break that spilled thousands of gallons of oil into the ocean off Orange County, operator Amplify Energy Corp. announced Aug. 25.
Details of the agreement that will settle the civil claims against Amplify and its subsidiary companies were not provided. A statement from Amplify’s president and CEO, Martyn Wilsher, said, “Though we are unable to provide additional detail at this time, we negotiated in good faith and believe we have come to a reasonable and fair resolution.”
Wylie Aitken, one of three attorneys tapped to represent more than a dozen business owners and individuals named as plaintiffs in the suit, said the agreement includes “both monetary and injunctive relief,” though he declined to provide the amount of money the parties settled on until the agreement is submitted to the court for approval.
Still being finalized are details such as how the money will be allocated fairly to all plaintiffs and the steps for injunctive relief that Amplify will take to ensure “this never happens again,” he said.
Aitken said, though, that attorneys are “very satisfied” with the terms of the agreement “and feel our clients will be equally satisfied, and that’s the most important thing.”
Amplify said the company’s insurance policies will fund the settlement, which still needs to be approved by the court.
Orange County officials recently agreed to accept a $956,352 settlement from the company, which will cover costs incurred by county agencies during the cleanup.
The October pipeline breach about 4 miles off Huntington Beach poured an estimated 25,000 gallons of oil into the water, shutting down beaches, harbors and fisheries as the slick was mopped up from shorelines and off contaminated wildlife.
The combined class action lawsuit sought an unspecified amount in damages of more than $5 million, claiming that, as a result of the spill and failure to contain it, local fishing and water tourism businesses took a hit as beaches were closed to the public and fishing was prohibited in the waters spanning Huntington Beach to Dana Point. Property owners operating rentals on the coast also were harmed, the suit said, and the environmental impact to local wildlife, including sea life and birds, was “apparent immediately.”