Verdict Against Gas Driller In Fracking Case To Be Appealed
The anti-fracking community is applauding a verdict against a gas driller. Two couples, who took their chances with the justice system, have been awarded $4.24 million after a lengthy court battle with Houston-based Cabot Oil & Gas Corp, which was accused of polluting their well water.
A verdict against a gas driller will be appealed. On Thursday, a jury composed of 10 Pennsylvanians found Texas-based Cabot Oil & Gas Corp Cabot guilty of several charges including negligence in drilling shale wells near two families’ houses and “was responsible for water contamination.”
The verdict after a 6-year court battle came with a hefty amount – the court awarded a total of $4.24 million to the plaintiffs. According to the Scranton court documents, $2.75 million will go to the Ely family and $1.49 million to the Hubert family for “inconvenience and discomfort associated with the water contamination.”
In 2008/2009, Dimock, which was featured in Gasland, a documentary that led to the anti-fracking movement, was the scene of the most highly-publicized case of methane contamination. Residents claimed at the time that:
…the water came out of their faucets turned cloudy, foamy and discolored, and it smelled and tasted foul. Homeowners, all of whom had leased their land to Cabot, said the water made them sick with symptoms that included vomiting, dizziness and skin rashes.
Over 40 residents sued the company, but most of them settled out of court. The Elys and Huberts were the last residents in Dimock fighting the gas company. Scott Ely told reporters outside the courthouse:
“They did something wrong. That was the whole point of getting it into the courtroom,”
Josh Fox, the filmmaker behind Gasland, said he screamed with joy when he heard the verdict. Fox claimed:
“I hope that this opens the floodgates for fracking plaintiffs across the globe to be encouraged to not take a gag order, not take a settlement, stick to your guns and make an impact on the world.”
Immediately after the verdict was issued, the giant gas driller issued a statement saying that they will appeal. Why? According to the company, Leslie Lewis, the attorney representing the two families, “intentionally deprived Cabot of a fair trial” and that the jury failed to take into account the numerous pieces of scientific evidence they presented during the trial. The statement read:
“The verdict disregards overwhelming scientific and factual evidence that Cabot acted as a prudent operator in conducting its operations,” spokesman George Stark said in a statement. “Cabot will be filing motions with the Court to set the verdict aside based upon lack of evidence as well as conduct of plaintiff’s counsel calculated to deprive Cabot of a fair trial.”
What are your thoughts on the verdict against the gas driller?