Victims of Car Crash Seek $5 Million From Mobil in Oil Pipeline Spill

Times Staff Writer,

A Granada Hills woman and her son filed a $5-million damage suit Thursday against Mobil Oil Corp. for injuries suffered in an auto accident when an oil pipeline burst Monday evening.

The suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, says Eleni Kyriazopoulos, 41, was driving on Woodley Avenue in Granada Hills about 7:30 p.m. with her son, Constantine Jr., 10, when the oil line under the street broke.

“They encountered this explosion, a fountain of oil, and it pushed their car up in the air,” their attorney, Shawn Steel, said. Crude oil spewed up on their 1983 Honda, covering the car and causing it to slide into a tree 200 feet away, he said.

Broken Bones, Cuts

Both victims suffered broken bones and cuts, the suit says. They remained hospitalized Thursday at Holy Cross Hospital, with Eleni Kyriazopoulos in serious condition and her son in good condition, hospital spokeswoman Liz Atkins said.

Fire officials said the emergency call to the crash led them to discover the gushing oil on Woodley, just north of the Knollwood Country Club. They estimated that 4,200 to 20,000 gallons of crude spilled from the line, which runs from oil fields near Bakersfield to a Torrance refinery.


The oil flowed into storm drains and eventually entered the Los Angeles River near the Sepulveda Dam Recreation Area, traveling another 22 miles downstream.

Corrosion Blamed

Corrosion in a 22-year-old pipeline is believed to have caused the break, Mobil spokeswoman Linda Agens said. She said the company had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment on it.

The suit asks $2.5 million in general damages and $2.5 million in punitive damages. Eleni Kyriazopoulos’ husband, Constantine Kyriazopoulos Sr., is also a party to the suit, saying he has lost the consortium of his wife.

Steel said additional defendants may be added to the suit, including Los Angeles County and the City of Los Angeles for not adequately protecting the public from such pipeline problems.

Also on Thursday, county flood control authorities agreed to a request by county Supervisor Kenneth Hahn that they include the spill in an earlier probe ordered by the Board of Supervisors on the effect of a proposed pipeline that would deliver crude oil to five South Bay refineries, United Press International reported.

In addition, at the request of the City Council the city Public Works Department is reviewing procedures for monitoring pipelines that transport hazardous substances.