Exxon Mobil’s attempt to de-certify the class action status of a couple’s lawsuit should be denied, the couple’s attorney argued. According to Arkansas Democrat Gazette, a federal judge granted class action status to the lawsuit, which was filed over an oil spill in Mayflower. Exxon Mobil has petitioned to appeal this decision.
Last month Exxon argued that the class-action status may put “undue pressure” on the company to settle. In a document filed in the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis last week, the attorneys refuted this claim, pointing out that Exxon is the most lucrative company in the world. They added that the company should be in favor of a class action lawsuit, as it would be an efficient way for the company to show that they complied with all legal and contractual obligations.
Two couples from Faulkner County are suing over the spill. Last month, U.S. District Judge Brian Miller decided that one of the couples would represent the class of property owners included in the lawsuit.
The couples are suing over a rupture in Exxon Mobil’s Pegasus pipeline that occurred on March 29, 2013. As a result of the rupture, which occurred between two houses in a Mayflower subdivision, approximately 210,000 gallons of thick crude spilled. The Northwoods subdivision, drainage ditches and a cove of Lake Conway were affected. According to Arkansas Democrat Gazette, these areas are still undergoing cleanup from the spill.
The lawsuit aims to either have the easements canceled and have the pipeline removed or mandate a replacement pipeline. It is not certain exactly how many people would be eligible to join the lawsuit, but an attorney for the couples estimated that it may be in the thousands.
In arguing against Exxon’s attempt to de-certify the class, the couples’ attorneys also pointed out that it would be relatively easy to identify the property owners who are eligible. They can be identified through real estate records and through documents that Exxon is required to have by law showing who the pipeline affects. Arkansas, Texas, Missouri and Illinois may all have residents that can join the class.