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Exxon’s Attempt to De-Certify Class Action Lawsuit over Oil Spill is Opposed

Exxon Mobil’s efforts to decertify the class action status of a lawsuit over an oil spill in Mayflower, Arkansas should be denied, an attorney representing the suing party says. According to Arkansas Democrat Gazette, the lawsuit was granted class action status by U.S. District Judge Brian Miller; this decision is being petitioned by Exxon Mobil.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of two couples from Faulkner County. Judge Miller decided that one of the couples would be the class representative last month.

An estimated 210,000 gallons of thick crude spilled on March 29, 2013 when Exxon Mobil’s Pegasus pipeline ruptured between two houses in a Mayflower. The oil spill affected the Northwoods subdivision, drainage ditches and a cove of Lake Conway. According to Arkansas Democrat Gazette, cleanup efforts are still ongoing.

The lawsuit intends to either have the easements canceled and have the pipeline removed or require a replacement pipeline. It is not clear 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.

Last month Exxon claimed that making the lawsuit a class-action would place “undue pressure” on the company to settle. The attorneys representing the couples refuted this claim in a document filed in the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis last week, stating out that Exxon is the richest company in the world. In fact, they asserted, the company should be in favor of a class action lawsuit because it would be an efficient way for the company to show that they complied with all legal and contractual obligations.

The couples’ attorneys also argued for the class status in stating that it would be relatively easy to identify the property owners who are eligible through real estate records and 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.

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