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ExxonMobil Asks Judge to Toss Suit Filed by Mayflower Residents

ExxonMobil is fighting back against a group of homeowners that filed a lawsuit in the wake of the Mayflower oil spill on March 29th.
MAYFLOWER, AR -- ExxonMobil is fighting back against a group of homeowners that filed a lawsuit in the wake of the Mayflower oil spill on March 29th.
   
In a Motion to Dismiss filed Thursday, lawyers for ExxonMobil argue that residents whose property wasn't directly impacted by the spill can't sue the company on the basis that their property has lost value.

"It's typical of what we've seen so far in their approach," said George Wise, a lawyer and co-chair of the Central Arkansas Chapter of the the Sierra Club, an environmental group that's been vocal about the spill.  "They've not really reached out to everyone in the community."

"You can be affected by a spill like this in many ways other than having direct contamination of your property," Wise added.

The lawsuit ExxonMobil wants tossed was filed one week after the spill by two residents who live off Ledrick Circle, a few hundred yards from the spill site.

It seeks class action status -- meaning other residents could join on as the case moves forward.

Residents in the neighborhood said Saturday, they'd been advised by their lawyer not to speak with reporters.  But off-camera, they recounted chest pains and trips to the doctor as the smell of crude oil lingered in their neighborhood in the days after the spill.  
   
They also cited worries over declining property values as reasons why they've signed their names to various lawsuit against ExxonMobil, including the one mentioned above.

In an email statement, ExxonMobil spokesman Aaron Styrk said the Motion to Dismiss reflects the company's preference to "settle these issues directly with the citizens of Mayflower and to avoid protracted litigation that could extend the time for resolution."

Styrk added that the company remains committed to spill cleanup and honoring all valid claims filed by residents.
   
But George Wise, the lawyer/activist,  said he believes ExxonMobil is testing the legal waters as lawyers work to limit the company's exposure to potential damages.
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