California Civil Code Section 3333.5
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California Laws > Civil Code > California Civil Code Section 3333.5
3333.5. (a) Each pipeline corporation that qualifies as a public
utility within Section 216 of the Public Utilities Code that
transports any crude oil or fraction thereof in a public utility oil
pipeline system that meets the requirements of subdivision (h) shall
be absolutely liable without regard to fault for any damages incurred
by any injured party that arise out of, or are caused by, the
discharge or leaking of crude oil or fraction thereof from the public
(b) A pipeline corporation is not liable to an injured party under
this section for any of the following:
(1) Damages, other than costs of removal incurred by the state or
a local government caused solely by an act of war, hostilities, civil
war, or insurrection or by an unanticipated grave natural disaster
or other act of God of an exceptional, inevitable, and irresistible
character, other than an earthquake, which damages could not have
been prevented or avoided by the exercise of due care or foresight.
(2) Damages in the proportion caused by the negligence,
intentional malfeasance, or criminal act of the landowner, or an
agent, employee, or contractor of the landowner, upon whose property
the pipeline system is located.
(3) Except as provided by paragraph (2), damages caused solely by
the negligence or intentional malfeasance of the injured person.
(4) Except as provided by paragraph (2), damages caused solely by
the criminal act of a third party other than the pipeline corporation
or an agent or employee of the pipeline corporation.
(5) Natural seepage from sources other than the public utility oil
(6) Damages that arise out of, or are caused by, a discharge that
is authorized by a state or federal permit.
(c) Damages for which a pipeline corporation is liable under this
section are the following:
(1) All costs of response, containment, cleanup, removal, and
treatment, including, but not limited to, monitoring and
(2) Injury to, or economic losses resulting from destruction of or
injury to, real or personal property.
(3) Injury to, destruction of, or loss of, natural resources,
including, but not limited to, the reasonable cost of rehabilitating
wildlife, habitat, and other resources and the reasonable cost of
assessing that injury, destruction, or loss, in any action brought by
the state, a county, city, or district.
(4) Loss of taxes, royalties, rents, use, or profit shares caused
by the injury, destruction, loss, or impairment of use of real
property, personal property, or natural resources.
(5) Loss of use and enjoyment of natural resources and other
public resources or facilities in any action brought by the state,
county, city, or district.
(d) The court may award reasonable costs of the suit, attorneys'
fees, and the cost of any necessary expert witnesses to any
prevailing plaintiff. The court may award reasonable costs of the
suit, attorneys' fees, and the cost of any necessary expert witnesses
to any prevailing defendant if the court finds that the plaintiff
commenced or prosecuted the suit under this section in bad faith or
solely for purposes of harassing the defendant.
(e) (1) A pipeline corporation shall immediately clean up all
crude oil, or any fraction thereof, that leaks or is discharged from
a pipeline subject to this section. Additionally, the pipeline
corporation shall abate immediately, or as soon as practical, the
effects of the leak or discharge and take all other necessary
(2) A pipeline corporation may recover the costs of the activities
specified in this section for which it is not at fault by means of
any otherwise available cause of action, including, but not limited
to, indemnification or subrogation.
(f) This section shall not apply to claims, or causes of action,
for damages for personal injury or wrongful death.
(g) This section shall not prohibit any party from bringing any
action for damages under any other provision or principle of law,
including but not limited to, common law. However, damages shall not
be awarded pursuant to this section to an injured party to the extent
the same party is or has been awarded damages for the same injury
under any other provision or principle of law.
(h) This section shall only apply to all of the following:
(1) The pipeline system proposed to be constructed by Pacific
Pipeline System, Inc., identified in Public Utilities Commission
Application No. 91-10-013, for which the maximum requirement of one
hundred million dollars ($100,000,000) set forth in paragraph (1) of
subdivision (j) shall apply.
(2) Any other public utility pipeline system for which
construction is completed on or after January 1, 1996, other than a
pipeline system the entire length of which is subject to the
Lempert-Keene-Seastrand Oil Spill Prevention and Response Act,
(Division 7.8 (commencing with Section 8750) of the Public Resources
Code). If part, but not all, of a pipeline system is subject to the
Lempert-Keene-Seastrand Oil Spill Prevention and Response Act, any
evidence of financial responsibility that satisfies that act, and
that meets the conditions of this section, shall be credited toward
the requirements of this section.
(3) Any major relocation of three miles or greater of a portion of
a pipeline system along substantially new alignments accomplished
through the exercise of eminent domain. This section shall not apply
to the portions of the pipeline not relocated.
(i) This section shall not apply to the following:
(1) A pipeline system in existence prior to January 1, 1996, that
is converted to a public utility prior or subsequent to January 1,
(2) A public utility pipeline system not otherwise subject to this
section, that is the object of repair, replacement or maintenance,
unless that activity constitutes relocation as described in paragraph
(3) of subdivision (h).
(j) (1) No pipeline system subject to this section shall be
permitted to operate unless the State Fire Marshal certifies that the
pipeline corporation demonstrates sufficient financial
responsibility to respond to the liability imposed by this section.
The minimum financial responsibility required by the State Fire
Marshal shall be seven hundred fifty dollars ($750) times the maximum
capacity of the pipeline in the number of barrels per day up to a
maximum of one hundred million dollars ($100,000,000) per pipeline
system, or a maximum of two hundred million dollars ($200,000,000)
per multiple pipeline systems.
(2) For the purposes of this section, financial responsibility
shall be demonstrated by evidence that is substantially equivalent to
that required by regulations issued under Section 8670.37.54 of the
Government Code, including insurance, surety bond, letter of credit,
guaranty, qualification as a self-insurer, or combination thereof or
any other evidence of financial responsibility. The State Fire
Marshal shall require the documentation evidencing financial
responsibility to be placed on file with that office, and shall
administer the documentation in a manner substantially equivalent to
that provided by regulations issued under Section 8670.37.54 of the
Government Code. Financial responsibility shall be available for
payment of claims for damages described in subdivision (c) of any
party, including, but not limited to, the State of California, local
governments, special districts, and private parties, that obtains a
final judgment therefor against the pipeline corporation.
(k) The State Fire Marshal shall require evidence of financial
responsibility to fund postclosure cleanup costs. The evidence of
financial responsibility shall be 15 percent of the amount of
financial responsibility required under subdivision (j) and shall be
maintained by the pipeline corporation for four years from the date
the pipeline is fully idled pursuant to a closure plan approved by
the State Fire Marshal.
(l) "Fraction" of crude oil means a group of compounds collected
by fractional distillation that condenses within the same temperature
band, or a material that consists primarily of that group of
compounds or of a mixture of those groups of compounds.
(m) (1) Notwithstanding Section 228 of the Public Utilities Code,
for purposes of this section, "pipeline corporation" means every
corporation or person directly operating, managing or owning any
pipeline system that qualifies as a public utility within Section 216
of the Public Utilities Code and for compensation within this state.
(2) For purposes of this section, "owning" refers to the legal
entity owning the pipeline system itself and does not include legal
entities having an ownership interest, in whole or in part, in the
entity owning the pipeline system or multiple pipeline systems.
(3) "Pipeline system" means a collective assemblage of intrastate
line pipe, valves, and other appurtenances connected to line pipe,
pumping units, fabricated assemblies associated with pumping units,
metering and delivery station, and fabricated assemblies constructed
for the same purpose at substantially the same time that form a
facility through which crude oil or a fraction thereof moves in
Last modified: February 22, 2013