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Fracking Damage Cases and Industry Secrecy

“Fracking" is when oil and gas companies blast millions of gallons of water treated with chemicals into the ground to force oil and gas from hard-to-reach places deep inside the earth. Along with a fracking-fueled gas rush have come troubling reports of poisoned drinking water, polluted air, mysterious animal deaths, and sick families.

But the oil and gas industry’s pattern of secrecy makes it difficult for researchers to study health and environmental impacts. One way that the gas industry keeps its secrets is by requiring people who settle damage lawsuits to sign non-disclosure agreements. These agreements have proven to be the norm, as this chart demonstrates.

State
Case Name / Status
Plaintiff
Claim
Information Not Publicly Available
Arkansas.AR
Tucker v. Southwestern Energy Co.
No. 11-0044
E.D. Ark. filed 5/17/2011
Active
Class action on behalf of residents living close to gas operations controlled by the defendant.
Southwestern Energy contaminated a private water well with fracking fluid (including alpha methylstyrene), and caused soil and air pollution as well.
Protective order governing discovery materials entered December 16, 2011, Doc. # 79.
Arkansas.AR
Ginardi v. Frontier Gas Services, LLC
No. 11-0420
E.D. Ark. filed 5/17/2011
Active
Class-action on behalf of plaintiffs who reside close to a natural gas compressor or transmission stations in the state of Arkansas.
Residents living close to natural gas compressor stations are exposed to harmful levels of methane, hydrogen sulfide, and other emissions.
Protective order governing confidentiality of discovery materials entered November 9, 2011, Doc. # 79.
Arkansas.AR
Berry v. Southwestern Energy Company
No. 11-0045
E.D. Ark. filed 5/17/2011
Active
Class action on behalf of plaintiffs who reside within 3 miles of natural gas wells in the state of Arkansas.
In 2011, Southwestern Energy caused methane to migrating to the named plaintiffs' drinking water well in Quitman, Arkansas.
No protective order entered.
Colorado.CO
Case name and number unknown
Settlement in 2006[1]
[1] Various newspapers have reported that the parties reached a settlement in 2006. Abrahm Lustgarten, "Drilling Process Causes Water Supply Alarm," Denver Post, November 17, 2008, available at http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_11001835; Mike Soraghan, "Baffled about Fracking? You're Not Alone," New York Times, May 13, 2011, available at http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2011/05/13/13greenwire-baffled-about-fracking-youre-not-alone-44383.html.
Laura Amos
Chemicals used in fracking contaminated plaintiff's drinking water and caused her to develop a rare form of cancer.
According to newspaper accounts, the plaintiff's lawyer obtained documents proving that chemicals present in drinking water were used in the defendant's fracking fluids. Confidential settlement, which, according to press accounts, contained a nondisclosure agreement.
Colorado.CO
Case name and number unknown
Settlement
Aimee Ellsworth
Methane contamination of private water well caused by drilling.
According to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and press reports, the parties reached an out-of-court, confidential settlement.[2]
[2] Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, "Gasland Fact Sheet," available at http://cogcc.state.co.us/library/GASLAND%20DOC.pdf.
Colorado.CO
Strudley v. Antero Resources Corp.
No. 11-2218
Denver Co. Dist. Ct. filed 3/23/2011
Unknown
William and Beth Strudley, and their two children, William and Charles
Drilling and operation of three gas wells near the family's property caused groundwater contamination and air pollution.
Unknown.[*]
[*] As of April 26, 2012, the docket sheet and/or documents in the docket could not be accessed online.
Colorado.CO
Evenson v. Antero Resources Corp.
No. 11-5118
Denver Co. Dist. Ct. filed 7/20/2011
Unknown
Families in Garfield County
The defendant gas company exposed the families to hazardous gases, chemicals, and toxic waste.
Unknown.[*]
[*] As of April 26, 2012, the docket sheet and/or documents in the docket could not be accessed online.
Louisiana.LA
Andre v. EXCO Resources, Inc.
No. 11-001610
W.D. La. filed 4/15/2011
Active
Class action on behalf of David Andre and others sustaining damages from natural gas well blow out
Methane and other contaminants migrated into drinking water wells as a result of natural gas drilling.
No confidentiality agreement / protective order.
Louisiana.LA
Beckman v. EXCO Resources, Inc.
No. 11-00617
W.D. La. filed 4/18/2011
Active
Six individuals and one corporation
The defendant's drilling operations caused methane and other contaminants to enter the plaintiffs' drinking water supplies.
Defendant has not answered yet and therefore discovery has not commenced. No confidentiality agreement / protective order.
New York.NY
Baker v. Anschutz Exploration Corp.
No. 10-06119
W.D.N.Y. filed 3/9/2011
Active
15 people residing in Horseheads, New York
The defendant's drilling operations caused methane and other contaminants to enter the plaintiffs' drinking water supplies.
No protective order entered yet.
New York.NY
Maring v. Nalbone
No. K 12009001499
N.Y. Sup. Ct. Chautauqua Co. filed 8/27/2009
Unknown[*]
[*] As of April 26, 2012, the docket sheet and/or documents in the docket could not be accessed online.
 
Defendant's drilling operations contaminated her drinking water well with methane.
Unknown.[*]
[*] As of April 26, 2012, the docket sheet and/or documents in the docket could not be accessed online.
Pennsylvania.PA
Armstrong v. Chesapeake Appalachia, LLC
No. 10-02453
M.D. Pa. filed 12/6/2010
Remanded to state court 7/29/2011

Active
Three residents of Sugar Run, Pennsylvania
Defendants drilled three natural gas wells close to plaintiffs' residence and caused methane and other pollutants to contaminate their drinking water.
Unknown.[*]
[*] As of April 26, 2012, the docket sheet and/or documents in the docket could not be accessed online.
Pennsylvania.PA
Fiorentino v. Cabot Oil & Gas
No. 09-2284
M.D. Pa. filed 11/19/2009
Active
63 residents of Dimock and Montrose, Pennsylvania
Cabot's drilling operations released methane and other toxins onto the plaintiffs' land and into their groundwater.
Discovery materials are subject to a protective order; several sealed documents appear on the docket sheet.
Pennsylvania.PA
Berish v. Southwestern Energy Production Co.
No. 10-1981
M.D. Pa. filed 9/29/2010
Active
31 residents of Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania
Improper well casing allowed fracking fluids and other pollutants to contaminate well water.
No protective orders or sealing of documents.
Pennsylvania.PA
Dillon v. Antero Resources Corp.
No. 11-5118
W.D. Pa. filed 8/11/2011
Active
David and Tara Dillon
Operation of a gas well drilled near the plaintiffs' property caused contamination of their drinking water and harmed their health.
Defendant Antero Resources Corp. moved for entry of a confidentiality agreement governing discovery materials on April 2, 2012.
Pennsylvania.PA
Beca v. Antero Resources Corp.
No. 11-1040
W.D. Pa. filed 8/11/2011
Active
Paul and Yvonne Beca
Operation of a gas well drilled near the plaintiffs' property caused contamination of their drinking water and harmed their health.
Defendant Antero Resources Corp. moved for entry of a confidentiality agreement governing discovery materials on April 2, 2012.
Pennsylvania.PA
Zimmerman v. Atlas America, LLC
No. 2009-7564
Pa. Ct. Com. Pl filed 9/21/2009
Unknown[*]
[*] As of April 26, 2012, the docket sheet and/or documents in the docket could not be accessed online.
The Zimmerman Family
Drilling operations contaminated drinking water and soil with various, toxic chemicals.
Unknown.[*]
[*] As of April 26, 2012, the docket sheet and/or documents in the docket could not be accessed online.
Texas.TX
Scoma v. Chesapeake Energy Corp.
No. 10-1385
N.D. Tex. filed 7/15/2010
Settlement.
Case dismissed because of settlement, 12/9/2011, Doc. # 68.
Jim and Linda Scoma
Chesapeake's drilling activities contaminated plaintiffs' well water.
Discovery materials are subject to a protective order.
Texas.TX
Mitchell v. Encana Oil & Gas, Inc.
No. 10-02555
N.D. Tex. filed 12/15/2010
Settlement.
Case voluntarily dismissed on 11/14/2011 after settlement.
Grace Mitchell
Encana and Chesapeake contaminated the plaintiff's well water.
Discovery materials were subject to a protective order agreed to by the parties. The settlement was not filed with the court and presumably is confidential.
Texas.TX
Harris v. Devon Energy Production Co., LP
No. 10-00708
E.D. Tex. filed 12/22/2010
Case voluntarily dismissed by plaintiffs after defendants moved for summary judgment.
Diana and Doug Harris
Devon contaminated two wells on the plaintiffs' property.
Discovery materials were subject to a protective order.
Texas.TX
Parr v. Aruba Petroleum, Inc.
No. 11-01650
Dallas County Court at Law No. 5 filed 3/8/2011
Active
Lisa and Robert Parr
Drilling operations caused a variety of health problems, well contamination, and property damage.
Protective order / confidentiality agreement governing discovery materials entered February 3, 2012.
Texas.TX
Ruggiero v. Aruba Petroleum, Inc.
No. 10-10-801
Wise County, District Court, filed 10/18/2010
Settlement reached in 2011.
The Ruggiero Family
Drilling operations resulted in, among other things, air emissions that cause respiratory and neurological effects in the plaintiffs.
Out of court, confidential settlement.
Texas.TX
Town of Dish v. Atmos Energy Corp.
No. 2011-40097-362
Denton County, filed 2/28/2011.
Transferred to number 153-255400-11 (Tarrant County).

Unknown[*]
[*] As of April 26, 2012, the docket sheet and/or documents in the docket could not be accessed online.
The town of Dish, Texas
Several companies built compressors, dehydrators, and pipelines which emitted air toxins (causes of action are trespass, nuisance, and lost tax revenue from diminution in property values).
Unknown.[*]
[*] As of April 26, 2012, the docket sheet and/or documents in the docket could not be accessed online.
Texas.TX
Sizelove v. Williams Production Co., LLC
No. 2010-50355-367
Denton County, 367th District Court filed 11/3/2010
Active
John and Jayme Sizelove
Drilling operations and gas compressor stations harmed the plaintiffs' health, by causing headaches, respiratory problems, and other symptoms.
Unknown.[*]
[*] As of April 26, 2012, the docket sheet and/or documents in the docket could not be accessed online.
Texas.TX
Heinkel-Wolfe v. Williams Prod. Co. LLC
No. 2010-43055-362
Denton County 362nd District Court filed 11/3/2010
Active
Margaret Heinkel-Wolfe and her daughter, Paige
Drilling operations contaminated the water and air surrounding the plaintiffs' property.
Unknown.[*]
[*] As of April 26, 2012, the docket sheet and/or documents in the docket could not be accessed online.
West Virginia.WV
Hagy v. Equitable Production Company
No. 10-01372
S.D.W.Va. removed to federal court 12/10/2010
Active
Dennis and Tamera Hagy
Improper cement casing and improper handling and disposal of drilling wastes led to contamination of plaintiffs drinking water well.
No confidentiality agreement / protective order.
West Virginia.WV
Rine v. Chesapeake Appalachia, LLC
No. 11-0004
N.D. W.Va. filed 4/10/2011
Settled and dismissed on 7/7/2011.
Larry and Jane Rine
Gas wells and associated waste ponds led to various chemicals contaminating plaintiffs' property and causing emotional stress (no direct physical injuries alleged).
Discovery materials were subject to a protective order agreed to by the parties. The settlement was not filed with the court and presumably is confidential.
Updated: April 26, 2012

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