Oil Spill Class Action Reaches Tentative Settlement

Oil spill in ocean

The proposed classes for whom Larson serves as interim co-lead counsel reached a settlement agreement with Amplify Energy Corp. (“Amplify”) in the class action litigation that arose from a massive Orange County oil spill in October 2021.

Multiple news outlets reported on the settlement, which is tentative pending its formal presentation to U.S. District Judge David O. Carter in September. Law360 noted that the settlement agreement “does not resolve either side’s claims against container ships that Amplify has alleged were responsible for damaging an underwater oil pipeline and causing the leak.” Los Angeles Times embellished that two container ships are “accused of dragging their anchors across the ocean floor and damaging the pipeline, leading to the spill.”

Partner Stephen G. Larson, who is serving as co-lead counsel with Wylie A. Aitken of Aitken Aitken Cohn and Lexi J. Hazam of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP, told Daily Journal that the proposed resolution “was the result of extensive negotiations and under the auspices of mediators Layn R. Phillips or Phillips ADR and Sally Shushan of Duval Shushan Legal Resources.” It includes “both monetary and injunctive relief,” the plaintiffs’ co-lead counsel explained in a statement, and “certain agreements were reached with Amplify Energy to ensure that it will prevent such accidents in the future and not contaminate the ocean again.”

“The settling parties have further agreed, subject to approval by the court, to a standstill on litigation and discovery between them while the pending settlement is finalized,” the co-lead counsel added.

There are currently three proposed classes, which include “members of the fishing industry like fishermen, fish distributors and processors, homeowners with direct access to the ocean, and the remaining tourism and business entities,” Law360 reported. Mr. Aitken noted to Law360 that “the size of the class hasn’t been finalized, but . . . the number is likely to be in the hundreds” and “the deal will resolve claims asserted by [all three classes].”

The Larson team representing the plaintiffs with Stephen and his co-lead counsel include partners Steven E. Bledsoe and Rick Richmond and associate Andrew J. Bedigian.

Read the full article by Madeline Lyskawa of Law360 here, the full article by Ricardo Pineda of Daily Journal here, and the full article by Laura J. Nelson and Hannah Fry of Los Angeles Times here (subscriptions required).

*Update as of Feb. 13, 2023: Read the full article detailing the pending settlement by Hannah Fry and Laura J. Nelson of Los Angeles Times here (subscription required) and the press release here.


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