First Fracking Verdict in US History is a Win for Personal Injury Plaintiffs
A jury in Texas has ruled in favor of the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit against a fracking company.
Fracking is the short term for hydraulic fracturing, which is a mining process used by drillers to pull natural gas from shale. Miners pump a mix of water, sand, and chemicals in shale rock formations in wells that can be deeper than 8,000 feet. The mix brings the natural gas to the surface.
Plaintiffs Robert and Lisa Parr began having health problems as far back as 2008 when “a multitude” of fracking and drilling operations began near their ranch in Decatur, Texas. The couple, along with their 11-year-old daughter Emma, began having headaches, nausea, vomiting, nose bleeds, and respiratory issues.
At first, Lisa Parr believed that she had the flu. “By 2009, I was having a multitude of problems,” Lisa Parr told CNN. “My central nervous system was messed up. I couldn’t hear, and my vision was messed up. My entire body would shake inside. I was vomiting white foam in the mornings.”
“My daughter was experiencing nose bleeds, rashes and there were some mornings she would wake up covered in blood … screaming and crying,” Mrs. Parr added.
“My doctor, an internal specialist, found 20 chemicals in my body and he said, ‘Lisa you must move immediately. You will spend more time and money on hospitals, chemotherapy, and a mortician … and you need to get an environmental health doctor immediately,'” she said.
The family realized that their symptoms could be related to the nearby fracking operation, run by Aruba Petroleum. The company had 22 sites near the Parrs’ home by 2011.
“We contended the plaintiffs were neither harmed by the presence of our drilling operations nor was the value of their property diminished because of our natural gas development,” Aruba said in a statement. “We presented thorough and expert testimony from recognized toxicologists and medical professionals, as well as local real estate professionals, to help the jury make an informed decision,”
The company plans to appeal the verdict.
This is the first verdict in a personal injury trial involving a fracking company in US history, and is a landmark verdict. The trial was short – only two weeks long – and the jury awarded the family a $2.95 million civil verdict. Landowners have sued over drilling in the past, over dead livestock or damaged property, but this is the first personal injury verdict that alleges fracking caused physical side effects that limit the family’s life.
“It’s a game-changing verdict that may have repercussions throughout the United States,” said Gary Wocker, an environmental advocate in Colorado who has pushed anti-fracking initiatives in that state, which has also seen an explosion in the fracking industry in the last several years.
The Strom Law Firm Can Help with Personal Injury Cases Involving Toxic Substances, Such as Fracking
If you or a loved one were exposed to a toxic substance and suffered injury contact, you may have a personal injury case. Contact the personal injury attorneys at the Strom Law Firm, L.L.C. to discuss your situation in more detail and for further information about our practice. We welcome co-counsel opportunities and regularly accept referrals in toxic tort cases from lawyers practicing in other parts of the country. We offer free, confidential consultations to discuss the facts of your case.803.252.4800