Santa Barbara retailer alleges oil spill caused economic losses

California oil spill image by NBC4 Los Angeles via Twitter 375x210 Santa Barbara retailer alleges oil spill caused economic lossesThe owner of a Colorado-based retailer with a store in Santa Barbara, Calif,, has filed a lawsuit against Plains All American Pipeline LP seeking economic damages she alleges resulted from an oil spill that polluted miles of coastline around Santa Barbara in May.

Erica Dahl, owner of Savvy of Boulder LLC, which operates two retail locations including one in Santa Barbara called Savvy on Pearl, filed the complaint June 11 in a California federal court. Ms. Dahl alleges that the oil spill caused store sales to plummet as much as 25 percent in May compared with sales figures from the same time last year.

According to Bloomberg, Ms. Dahl “seeks to represent other retailers, hotels, restaurants, wineries and businesses who she said saw similar drops in business since the May 19 incident closed two state beaches and campground 23 miles north of the city.”

The Plains All American pipeline, used to move crude oil from storage tanks in Las Flores to a pumping station about 200 miles north in Gaviotas, released about 100,000 gallons of crude oil into the Pacific Ocean after a heavily eroded section of it ruptured.

The proposed class action accuses the Houston-based pipeline company of violating the federal Oil Pollution Act of 1990 and comes after a sea urchin diver filed a similar complaint against Plains All American for economic damages caused by the spread of oil pollution in and near fishing grounds. Ms. Dahl’s complaint also includes allegations of strict liability, negligence, and public nuisance.

Both lawsuits contend that the Plains All American Pipeline failed to install shut-off valves that could have mitigated the spill.

According to Bloomberg, Ms. Dahl’s lawsuit “seeks three times actual damages per violation, which when aggregated among the hundreds of businesses in the proposed class, would exceed the $5 million threshold for federal court jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act.”

About 21,000 gallons of oil washed up on Santa Barbara-area beaches. As of June 13, cleanup crews have recovered 14,267 gallons of oily seawater, and about 5.4 thousand cubic yards of oil-saturated sand and earth. Response crews have also pulled several hundred animals both alive and dead from the polluted areas.

Source: Bloomberg