Class action status has been granted in a lawsuit against Exxon Mobil stemming from a 2013 pipeline accident in Mayflower.
U.S. District Judge Brian Miller in Little Rock ruled in favor of Arnez and Charletha Harper, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. The pair can represent people who currently own property that is subject to an easement for and physically crossed by Exxon’s Pegasus pipeline, which runs from Texas to Illinois. They want the easement canceled or the pipeline removed or replaced.
Exxon’s pipeline ruptured last year, spilling about 210,000 gallons of oil in a neighborhood in Mayflower, about 30 miles northwest of Little Rock.
The Harpers’ attorney, Phillip Duncan, declined to discuss the case’s details but said there are numerous people with property along the pipeline.
Exxon Mobil had argued against class-action status, claiming the plaintiffs’ efforts were an attempt to “usurp the exclusive authority of the federal government to regulate interstate pipelines,” according to the ruling.
Company spokesman Christian Flathman said officials are reviewing the judge’s decision and considering their options, which include the possibility of an appeal.
The judge noted in his ruling that the Harpers’ property was not damaged by the oil spill.
The judge found the other two plaintiffs could not represent the class action since the pipeline doesn’t cross their property. Duncan said their Mayflower property was “within probably inches” of the pipeline.
Exxon Mobil shut off the entire pipeline after the Mayflower oil spill, but has recently opened a section in Texas.
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