Exxon Mobil Corp. has become the latest oil company to face litigation this year, after a group of 14 Montana landowners filed a lawsuit claiming that the company was at fault in a spill that sent 1,500 barrels of oil gushing into the Yellowstone River.

The plaintiffs, Montana residents who own property along the waterway, say that the July 2011 spill caused damage to property, livestock operations and nearby wildlife, and resulted in health problems. They are seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

The group also claims that Exxon could have prevented the spill by closing the pipeline during last summer’s severe flooding in the area. Officials in Laurel, Mont., reportedly warned the company that the pipeline was unsafe several times prior to the spill.

Investigators believe that the flooding caused the pipeline, which was buried just a few feet beneath the water, to break. In the accident’s aftermath, Exxon agreed to pay the state of Montana $1.6 million in penalties, and spent an estimated $135 million to clean up affected areas and upgrade the pipeline.

A second group of property owners has filed a separate suit against the oil giant. That case is scheduled for trial in October 2013.

Read more at the Huffington Post.

For more InsideCounsel coverage of oil spills, see:

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