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Exxon Mobil Appeals Decision to Grant Class Action Status in Oil Spill Lawsuit

Sep 18, 2014

Exxon Mobil has filed an appeal of a federal judge’s decision to grant class-action status in a lawsuit over the March 2013 oil spill in Mayflower, Arkansas.

The company submitted a document to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals saying that class-action status would put “undue pressure” on the company to settle, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports.  But attorneys for one of the couples who brought the case countered that the company should welcome the “judicial efficiency” of a single legal proceeding.

The lawsuit was filed as a result of the March 29, 2013 rupture in the Pegasus pipeline in Mayflower, Arkansas, a small community about 25 miles north of Little Rock. The rupture spilled an estimated 210,000 gallons of crude oil in a residential neighborhood. U.S. District Judge Brian Miller ruled that Randy and Betty Harper, who own property in Mayflower, could represent the class of property owners covered by the suit, according to the Democrat-Gazette. Class members are the owners of property subject to an easement for the Pegasus pipeline and physically crossed by the pipeline. The lawsuit seeks either cancellation of the easements and removal of the pipeline or replacement of the pipeline. Property in Arkansas, Missouri, Texas, and Illinois is subject to Exxon easements.  Attorneys for the landowners say the owners want to enforce the obligation to  “repair” and “maintain” the pipeline that Exxon agreed to in order to obtain the easements.

Twenty-two homes in Mayflower were evacuated after the pipeline ruptured, The New York Times reported, and the spill was classified a major spill by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  According to the Democrat-Gazette, the cleanup continues.

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