December 2, 2022
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Santa Barbara may add legal muscle for claims against oil spill pipeline operator


The city of Santa Barbara is looking to add some legal muscle as battle lines are drawn against its behemoth foe, Plains All American Pipeline.

City Attorney Ariel Calonne, in a statement released July 16, is recommending that the Santa Barbara City Council retain special legal counsel to assist as co-counsel in preparing and pursuing claims for damages to the city arising from the May 19 Refugio oil spill.

The news release notes that while the city of Santa Barbara’s coastline has not yet been significantly affected by the oil spill, the media attention the spill received — according to the hospitality industry — has ruined the area’s reputation as a world-class tourist destination. Still, no monetary figures related to damage estimates have been quantified, even though a number of claims and lawsuits have been filed with and against Plains.

Calonne has recommended retaining the firm of Baron & Budd on a contingency fee basis. Baron & Budd is a national plaintiffs’ law firm with substantial experience dealing with oil spill disaster recovery.

Scott Summy will serve as co-counsel with the City Attorney’s Office. The release states Summy is a shareholder of Baron & Budd and leads the firm’s environmental litigation group. He has been active in numerous high profile cases, including BP’s Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf.

Summy previously represented the city of Santa Barbara in connection with MTBE water contamination issues. The City Council will consider approving an agreement to retain Baron & Budd on July 21.