The developer of the Northwoods subdivision, where an ExxonMobil pipeline burst in March and released crude oil into the surrounding area, has filed a motion to be removed from a lawsuit filed in May as result of the spill.
The motion to dismiss, filed in Faulkner County Circuit Court on Friday, states the plaintiffs’ claims against the developer, Harold Satterfield, are "barred based on the statute of repose."
"The statute of repose cuts off certain claims against developers and others arising out of, or related to, an improvement of real property," the motion states. "The cutoff date for the statute of repose is five years after substantial completion of the improvement to real property."
The motion, filed by Satterfield’s attorney Clayborne Stone, of the Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates and Woodyard law firm in Little Rock, said the plaintiffs acknowledge in their complaint that completion of improvements to Northwoods occurred in 2007, at the latest.
"Accordingly, by 2012 the statute of repose completely barred any claims against Mr. Satterfield arising out of the development of the Northwoods subdivision," the motion states.
In their complaint, the plaintiffs allege that Satterfield "negligently failed to disclose that the oil pipeline ran through the proposed subdivision."
"Satterfield owed a duty of due care to the plaintiffs and the community of Mayflower when designing and developing his property for a residential neighborhood," the complaint states.
The plaintiffs allege Satterfield "breached that duty" and "failed to take and design adequate precautions to protect the subdivision."
In the motion to dismiss, Satterfield’s attorney claims previous filings from the plaintiffs in federal court allege that his client, and others, fraudulently concealed information during the development of the Mayflower subdivision, but those allegations are not included in the amended complaint.
"There are no allegations of fraudulent concealment by Mr. Satterfield in the amended complaint," the motion states. "The fraudulent concealment exception to the statute of repose has not application in this case, and the amended complaint against Mr. Satterfield should be dismissed."
The suit, filed by more than 60 Faulkner County residents, names ExxonMobil Pipeline Company, ExxonMobil Corporation, the Center for Toxicology and Environmental Heatlh, and others, as defendants.
The plaintiffs allege that the defendants’ actions were negligent, violated the Arkansas Solid Waste Management Act and resulted in damage to real estate property, mental suffering, physical injuries and pain and suffering, among other injuries and damages.
The plaintiffs seek a jury trial and punitive damages, however, an estimate of how much in punitive damages is not included in the complaint.
The suit is one of three, relating to the Mayflower oil spill, currently filed in Faulkner County Circuit Court.
CTEH, a science-based environmental consulting firm, also filed a motion Oct. 9 to be removed from the suit.
The motion, filed by CTEH attorneys from Perkins & Trotter, states the suit "throws a wide dragnet" over several defendants, but "contains no allegations suggesting that CTEH had anything to do with ownership, operation, or even consulting services related to the pipeline prior to the Mayflower (oil) spill."
(Staff writer Lee Hogan can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1246. Follow Lee Hogan on Twitter at twitter.com/LCD_LeeHogan. To comment on this and other stories, log on to thecabin.net.)