'Gasland' Families Win $4.24M Victory Against Fracking Firm
March 11, 2016
A federal jury ruled Thursday that Cabot Oil & Gas Co. must pay more than $4.2 million in damages to two families in northeastern Pennsylvania that claimed the company's fracking operations contaminated their groundwater.
"This has been an exhausting 6-1/2 years," Scott Ely, resident of Dimock where the contamination took place said after the verdict, according to Reuters.
He said Cabot fought hard and "boxed them in," limiting the evidence his pro bono attorney, Leslie Lewis, could introduce or what Ely could say in testimony.
"They are an arrogant company that bullies their way to what they want," Ely said. "If they had just done the right thing, it would have been so much easier for them."
Six jurors in federal court in Scranton city awarded $1.3 million each to Ely and his wife Monica Marta-Ely. Each of their three children received $50,000.
A second couple, Ray and Victoria Hubert, also of Dimock, about 32 miles south of Binghamton, New York, each received US$720,000 and their daughter Hope was awarded US$50,000.
Cabot spokesperson George Stark said the company was surprised by the verdict and again asserted there was no evidence linking contamination of the Ely and Hubert wells to their fracking operations.
"Cabot will be filing motions with the court to set the verdict aside based on the lack of evidence as well as conduct of the plaintiff's counsel calculated to deprive Cabot of a fair trial," he said.
The town’s plight became known worldwide after being featured in an Emmy-winning 2010 documentary, “Gasland,” which showed local residents lighting their tap water on fire because of the high amount of methane it contained.
More than 40 families had sued Cabot and the majority of them settled with the company in 2012.
The families claimed the water was contaminated with methane gas after the company began using the process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to extract gas from underground shale formations near Dimock in 2008.
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