A Texas oil and natural gas company is facing what may be the first proposed class action over a weekend oil spill that’s estimated to have dumped more than 100,000 gallons of oil into waters off the coast of southern California.
Plaintiff Peter Moses Gutierrez Jr., a disc jockey whose company regularly performs at Huntington Beach, which bore the brunt of the spill, accuses Houston-based Amplify Energy Corporation and its Beta Operating Company subsidiary of creating a private nuisance by failing to safely operate the oil rig connected with the accident. His complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on Monday.
Greg Coleman, a lawyer for Gutierrez at Milberg Coleman Bryson Phillips Grossman, said in a statement that he hoped the lawsuit would help coastal communities recover the spill, which released an estimated 126,000 gallons of oil. Class action firm Milberg said it believes the case is the first federal lawsuit stemming from the spill.
“The corporations that run oil rigs and pipelines assume the risk of oil spills when they undertake the responsibility required to run those entities,” the complaint says. “When that responsibility is breached by the defendants, as here, the consequences can be catastrophic.”
The oil has spread into an oil slick covering about 13 square miles of the Pacific Ocean, leaving fish dead, birds mired in petroleum and wetlands contaminated. It stretched from the Huntington Beach Pier down to Newport Beach, an area popular with surfers and sunbathers.
Monday’s proposed class action says that Gutierrez, who performs regularly on the Huntington Beach beachfront, will “lose a substantial amount of his (disc jockey) business” due to the beach’s closure.
The beach has been closed “until further notice” because of the spill, Huntington Beach has said. The lawsuit, citing local media reports, says it could remain shut for a few months. The lawsuit seeks punitive and other damages on behalf of a proposed class of all persons and businesses harmed by the rig’s breach.
At the beach, in the ocean, pretty much wherever you look, you’re going to find legal disputes. They are EVERYWHERE! And when those things negatively impact you and/or your business including bankruptcies, landlord/tenant matters including unlawful detainers, contract issues, nuisance ADA claims and even collections, call in your good guy business litigator, Dean Sperling to resolve YOUR matter with YOUR best interests in mind!
More on the case: