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PA Families Win $4.24M in Fracking Lawsuit

March 15th, 2016

Two Pennsylvania families were awarded a collective $4.24 million in their fracking lawsuit against a Houston-based energy company. An eight-person jury awarded the Ely and Hubert families with an historic verdict in their fracking lawsuit against Cabot Oil & Gas. Attorneys for Cabot claimed that defense counsel acted inappropriately and filed a motion with U.S. Magistrate Judge Martin Carlson to set aside the verdict or grant the company a new trial.

Details of the Fracking Lawsuit

The fracking lawsuit stems from allegations made in 2008 that methane released from Cabot’s wells contaminated the water wells used by more than 40 families in rural Pennsylvania. Many of the families filed fracking lawsuits against Cabot in 2009, but the company reached settlements with them in 2012. Only the Elys and Huberts refused to participate in the settlement agreement. Mr. and Mrs. Ely were awarded $2.6 million, while their three minor children were awarded $50,000 apiece. The jury awarded Mr. and Mrs. Hubert $1.4 million and another family member $50,000.

Fracking Lawsuit Judge Excludes Evidence

Leslie Lewis, the attorney for the Elys and Huberts, claimed that the judges in the fracking lawsuit made rulings that limited her ability to try the case for her clients. In January, U.S. District Judge John Jones dismissed the plaintiffs’ fracking lawsuits for breach of contract, personal injury and fraud, citing a lack of evidence. Last month, Judge Carlson reportedly prevented Ms. Lewis from presenting more than 300 exhibits to the jury because she did not allow the defense team enough time for discovery prior to the trial.

Judge: Fracking Lawsuit Limited to “Private Nuisance”

Judge Carlson also informed the plaintiffs that their claims for lost property value in the fracking lawsuit would also be dismissed. The judge ruled that they could not claim loss of property value, since they did not present reports on the value of the home before and after the contamination started. The only allegations that remained from the original fracking lawsuit was “private nuisance.” The plaintiffs had to prove that Cabot’s actions caused them substantial discomfort.

Cabot: Fracking Lawsuit Attorney Was “Inappropriate”

Despite the limitations placed on the plaintiffs in their fracking lawsuit, Ms. Lewis was able to convince the jury to make a substantial award to her clients. Attorneys for Cabot claim that Ms. Lewis acted inappropriately during her closing arguments in the fracking lawsuit. Although she was not allowed to mention the dismissed exhibits, she used language to suggest that Cabot was “hiding something”. Cabot’s legal team claimed that they should get a new trial, as Ms. Lewis’s statements may have prejudiced the jury against the company.

Source: Scranton Times Tribune

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NOTE: This blog post is a news story and does not reflect any endorsement of the Amaro Law Firm by any of the parties mentioned herein.

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