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Oil Workers Sue Plains Over Refugio Spill

Class Action Complaint Calls for Damages, Injunction on Behalf of Laid-Off Employees

Attorney Barry Cappello of Santa Barbara law firm Cappello & Noël LLP announced Monday that he has filed a second class action complaint against Plains All American Pipeline on behalf of Richard Lilygren, a Santa Barbara resident and oil platform worker who was laid off from his job of 12 years after the May 19 Refugio Oil Spill.

When the rupture in Line 901 also caused Line 903 to close, Lilygren, who worked for Instrument Control Services at the PXP-operated Hidalgo and Harvest platforms, and more than 100 other employees at onshore and offshore oil facilities along the Central Coast lost their jobs because oil was no longer being transported through the area.

With only a few independent oil lines currently operating in Ventura, those out of work remain so until the Santa Barbara pipelines are fixed. As stated in the complaint, due to Plains’s negligence and lax safety standards, which led to the oil spill, Lilygren and his colleagues have been unable to find comparable employment and suffer current and future economic losses.

The complaint also states that Lilygren had sought compensation for lost wages from Plains, been assured he would receive them, and had his claim summarily denied. In an interview, Cappello said, “Unless there’s a penalty for [Plains’s] misconduct in the form of damages and an injunction, they’re going to go back to their old ways.”

The complaint, which was filed on September 4, seeks an undetermined amount in damages for Lilygren and all others who were laid off as well as a permanent injunction requiring Plains to install automatic shut off valves on all its pipelines in Santa Barbara County.

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