Alexandra Geremia, a Santa Barbara County beachfront property owner took the lead in a class-action lawsuit to sue All American Pipeline. Geremia represents more than 3,000 other landowners in Southern California who are are filing suit against the operators of the pipeline who spilled approximately 101,000 gallons of oil on the coast on May 19th.
The oil spill caused by the Texas Company has blackened shorelines and spread oil to roughly 100 miles of Los Angeles County beaches. The oil spill has caused campgrounds to close and has killed nearly 300 marine mammals and birds. Commercial fishing has also been prohibited.
Geremia alleges that the spill damaged her family's property and beaches. Geremia's lawsuit describes the destruction as follows:
"Oil invaded ... beachfront properties, covering them
with toxic crude, coating the shoreline, and clinging
to rocks, sand, and the animals it touched . . .
Noxious odor of crude oil has permeated the air, drenched
wildlife with oil, and left miles of previously pristine
shoreline covered in thick black tar."
This lawsuit is only one of many others that have been filed in Los Angeles federal court. At least three other lawsuits have been filed by a commercial fisherman, a Santa Barbara shop owner and a tour guide. These individuals claim that the oil spill has harmed their livelihoods and others who ear a living from the sea or from the tourist industry. Many of the lawsuits not only mention the current spill, but also describe other spills that have occurred within the past ten years. Since 2006 the company has reported 229 oil spills.
Many lawsuits also allege that All American should have automatic shut-off valves that could have prevented the spills. This specific pipeline is the only major one of its kind in the county without automatic shut-off valves because the original owner had won a lawsuit that established that the company was under the jurisdiction of federal regulators and outside the reach of county regulations. Moreover, the company maintans that an accidental shut-off could create pressure problems.