Companies want Red Butte oil spill lawsuit tossed
Court • Chevron, Rocky Mountain Power say "plaintiffs did not suffer the injuries alleged."
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Companies linked to the massive Red Butte Creek oil spill two years ago have asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit brought by residents on and near the creek.

Chevron Pipe Line Co. and Rocky Mountain Power say in court papers the 66 residents have no claim against them.

In its brief, filed in the U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City, Chevron said it "will present evidence that will show, among other things, that plaintiffs did not suffer the injuries alleged and that [Chevron] did not engage in the 'willful,' 'malicious,' 'reckless,' and 'wanton' conduct asserted" by the homeowners.

George Haley, an attorney for the oil company, declined further comment Friday.

The residents, seeking unspecified costs and damages, said in their civil claim they have suffered harm to their health, losses to their home values and expenses for expert environmental and real-estate consultants. They say they want to recoup their costs and receive long-term medical monitoring because of the June 11-12, 2010, crude oil spill and another one on Dec. 1, 2010.

The total crude oil spilled was 54,600 gallons, with tens of thousands of gallons running into the creek from a dime-sized hole punched into the pipeline by a short circuit at a Rocky Mountain Power station. The crude oil flowed downstream from the foothills near Red Butte Garden and through the east-side residential neighborhoods into Liberty Park's pond.

Chevron spent about $43 million on the cleanup, penalties and other related expenses, including housing fees for residents relocated for days and, in one case, months because of the spill.

Spokeswoman Maria O'Mara noted that the power company is asking the court to dismiss the case because it was not filed on time.

"We will vigorously defend against these allegations," she said. "Given the nature of the claims, we expect this will be a fairly lengthy process."

Plaintiffs' attorneys did not respond Friday to requests for comment.

fahys@sltrib.com

Twitter: @judyfutah