Settlement announced in state lawsuit over Exxon pipeline spill | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Settlement announced in state lawsuit over Exxon pipeline spill

Posted By on Thu, Jun 15, 2017 at 10:30 AM

MAYFLOWER SPILL:Homeowners affected by the 2013 spill have settled a lawsuit.
  • MAYFLOWER SPILL:Homeowners affected by the 2013 spill have settled a lawsuit.
A law firm has announced a settlement for 64 families in a lawsuit against Exxon Mobil over damages in Mayflower from the rupture of the Pegasus oil pipeline in the Northwood subdivision in 2013.

A news release from the Hare Wynn Newell and Newton law firm of Little Rock and Fayetteville said the suit, filed in Faulkner County Circuit Court in 2013,  was settled on terms "favorable" to homeowners and residents, but no terms were disclosed as part of the agreement. A lawsuit on the issue was dismissed in late 2015 after filing of a document under seal. That signaled the beginning of the settlement mediation process announced today.

When the pipeline ruptured, it poured an estimated 150,000 gallons of Canadian tar sands crude into the subdivision. Homes were evacuated and the oil reached local wetlands. The incident spurred multiple lawsuits, repurchase of some homes (including some owned by people in this suit), demolition of three homes and an extended cleanup operation. The law firm news release said Exxon Mobil had already paid more than $5 million to settle other actions.

Here's how the law firm, whose efforts were led by Shawn Daniels and Don McKenna, described events. It's a summary of the argument they likely would have made had the case gone to trial:

The Exxon Pegasus pipeline was constructed in large part with pre-World War II materials and technology. Despite the pipeline's age, Exxon reversed the direction of flow and pumped the heavy, coarse tar sands oil through the aging pipeline. The pipeline was unable to handle the pressure of the flow, resulting in a seam rupture and subsequent spill. 
At least six state court lawsuits were filed over the spill, the Log Cabin Democrat has reported. At least four of the cases were settled and two others were in mediation according to a report in the Log Cabin last year.

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