In a case thought to be the first of its kind, a jury in Texas returned a verdict Tuesday ordering an oil and gas producer to pay a family claiming to be sickened by its operations near their home. In a 5-1 vote, the jury found that Plano, Texas-based Aruba Petroleum Inc. “intentionally created a private nuisance” and should pay the Parr family, whose 40-acre plot of land near Decatur sits atop the Barnett Shale close to 22 hydraulic fracturing wells run by Aruba, $2.95 million for loss of property value, past and future pain and suffering, and mental anguish.
The Parrs filed the civil suit in 2011, alleging air pollution from the wells exposed them to hazardous chemicals and industrial waste, leading to symptoms such as chronic nosebleeds, irregular heartbeat, muscle spasms and open sores. Aruba disputed the verdict, saying it followed legal guidelines. The company is expected to file an appeal.
This is believed to be the first civil jury verdict involving fracking, but it probably won’t be the last. According to Wall Street Journal research conducted last year, more than 15 million people live within a mile of a fracking well.
Lisa and Robert ‘Bob’ Parr v. Aruba Petroleum Inc. and Encana Oil and Gas (USA) Inc. – Dallas County Court
Jury awards Texas family nearly $3 million in fracking case – Los Angeles Times
$3 million awarded to North Texas family in fracking lawsuit – StateImpact Texas (NPR)