ST. LOUIS - A federal court wrongly excluded an expert witness for an Arkansas couple accusing a hydraulic fracturing company of trespass and improperly awarded summary judgment to the company based on the couple's lack of sufficient evidence, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held May 22 in reversing and remanding (Robbie Hill, et al. v. Southwestern Energy Company, et al., No. 15-3458, 8th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 8862).
OKLAHOMA CITY - A company sued in connection with injuries suffered by two workers when a lithium battery exploded during a hydraulic fracturing operation filed an additional brief in Oklahoma federal court on May 5 contending that the plaintiffs cannot designate the company's CEO as a specific witness under federal procedural rules (Jacob McGehee, et al. v. Southwest Electronic Energy Corporation, et al. and Southwest Electronic Energy Corporation v. Engineered Power LP, et al., No. 15-145, W.D. Okla.).
DENVER - An oil and gas company that is a class representative in a royalty dispute with a hydraulic fracturing company on April 3 moved in Colorado federal court for permission to file a restricted revised response in opposition to the fracking company's motion for summary judgment to protect confidential business information (Phelps Oil And Gas LLC v. Noble Energy Inc., No. 14-2604, D. Colo.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A federal magistrate judge in Pennsylvania on March 31 vacated a $4.24 million verdict handed down in favor of a group of residents against a hydraulic fracturing company they had accused of contaminating their groundwater. The judge ordered that a new trial be held if the parties are unable to reach a mutual settlement on the remaining claims in the lawsuit (Nolen Scott Ely v. Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation, No. 09-2284, M.D. Pa.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 49075).
OKLAHOMA CITY - A hydraulic fracturing company filed a brief in Oklahoma federal court on Jan. 25, arguing that a company that purchases royalties and mineral rights is attempting to get "two bites at the apple" on its claim that the fracking company has underpaid royalties to a group of mineral rights owners (Chieftain Royalty Company v. SM Energy Company, et al., No. 11-177, W.D. Okla.).
STILLWATER, Okla. - A group of Oklahoma residents on Dec. 5 filed a putative class action lawsuit in state court against five energy companies contending that by disposing of fracking wastewater into the ground, the companies introduced contaminants into the natural environment that caused an adverse change to it in the form of unnatural seismic activity (David and Myra Reid, et al. v. White Star Petroleum LLC, et al., No. CJ-2016-543, Okla. Dist., Payne Co.).
NEW YORK - A New York federal judge on Sept. 7 denied an insured's motion to dismiss an insurer's suit seeking a coverage declaration for underlying suits arising out of the insured's fracking operations because the policy at issue includes a forum selection clause designating New York as the forum to litigate any disputes (Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's, London v. New Dominion LLC, No. 16-5005, S.D. N.Y.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 121133).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A federal jury in Pennsylvania on March 10 awarded $4.24 million to residents who contended that a hydraulic fracturing company is liable for contaminating their groundwater (Nolen Scott Ely v. Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation, No. 09-2284, M.D. Pa.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A magistrate judge assigned to a dispute between residents and an oil and gas company that they contend has contaminated groundwater as a result of hydraulic fracturing operations on Feb. 12 granted the company's motion to exclude plaintiffs' exhibits at trial on grounds that they pertain to water tests that were performed just a month before trial without notice being given to the company (Nolen Scott Ely v. Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation, No. 09-2284, M.D. Pa.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and environmental groups that had sued the agency in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia alleging violations of federal law that had the potential to contaminate groundwater on Dec. 15 reached an agreement to dismiss the case without prejudice. The plaintiffs had argued that the EPA wrongly allowed hydraulic fracturing companies to remain exempt from listing the chemicals they use in fracking on the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) (Environmental Integrity Project, et al. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 15-17, D. D.C.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - The federal judge in Pennsylvania overseeing the groundwater contamination lawsuit brought by a group of residents against hydraulic fracturing company Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. on Oct. 26 partially granted a motion allowing the plaintiffs to depose a water filtration expert that the company had placed on the list of testifying experts, but then removed from that list. The judge said the plaintiffs were permitted to depose him because plaintiffs made "a compelling showing" that the information they sought could not be obtain through other means (Nolen Scott Ely v. Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation, No. 09-2284, M.D. Pa.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 144577).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - A divided Ohio Supreme Court on Sept. 16 denied a writ of mandamus sought by residents who wanted to compel the Ohio secretary of State to reverse his decision and place on the November ballots for three counties charter measures that would allow voters to pass initiatives banning hydraulic fracturing (State of Ohio ex rel. Renee Walker, et al. v. Jon Husted, Secretary of State of Ohio, No. 2015-1371, Ohio Sup.).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - A drilling company engaged in a contract dispute with a hydraulic fracturing company related to their respective liabilities in an underlying groundwater contamination lawsuit on July 17 filed a brief in Ohio federal court, arguing that the fracking company has been "purposely and unnecessarily delaying and needlessly increasing the cost of litigation" (Warren Drilling Company v. Equitable Production Company, No. 12-00425, S.D. Ohio).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - A hydraulic fracturing company engaged in a contract dispute with a drilling company related to their respective liabilities in an underlying groundwater contamination lawsuit on July 15 filed a brief in Ohio federal court, contending that the drilling company is not entitled to a taxation of costs (Warren Drilling Company v. Equitable Production Company, No. 12-00425, S.D. Ohio).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A federal judge in Pennsylvania on June 30 denied as moot a hydraulic fracturing company's motion to partially dismiss a complaint filed by residents who contend that the company contaminated their groundwater (Tammy Manning v. WPX Energy Appalachia LLC, No. 12-0646, M.D. Pa.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 84473).
LOS ANGELES - An environmental group that contends that hydraulic fracturing will further exacerbate the contamination of California's groundwater with toxins filed a complaint against the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in California federal court on June 10, alleging that the agency violated federal law when it approved a land management plan allowing fracking in certain sections of the state (Center for Biological Diversity, et al. v. U.S. Bureau of Land Management, et al., No. N/A, C.D. Calif.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - Pennsylvania landowners who sued hydraulic fracturing companies alleging chemical contamination of their drinking water as a result of fracking operations on May 26 filed a brief in Pennsylvania federal court opposing the company's motion to dismiss, arguing that it has not provided evidence to establish that the residents have willfully failed to commence arbitration or have abandoned any of their meritorious claims (Edwin Bidlack, et al. v. Chesapeake Appalachia LLC, et al., No. 11-00129, M.D. Pa.).
AUSTIN, Texas - Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on May 18 signed a bill that preempts regulation of hydraulic fracturing at the city level, overriding the fracking ban that was passed last year in a referendum that was approved in the City of Denton.
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A Pennsylvania appeals panel on April 10 ruled that an environmental group was not entitled to environmental data and information pertaining to a study of potential radiation exposure to workers, the public and the environment resulting from certain materials generated by oil and gas exploration and production activities such as hydraulic fracturing (Department of Environmental Protection v. Delaware Riverkeeper Network, No. 1373 C.D. 2014, Pa. Cmmwlth.; 2015 Pa. Commw. LEXIS 158).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A hydraulic fracturing company sued by Pennsylvania residents who contend that the company is liable for contaminating their groundwater on April 8 moved in Pennsylvania federal court for permission to file an amended answer to the complaint, contending that circumstances in the case have "changed greatly" since the company filed its answer to the original complaint more than four years ago (Nolen Scott Ely v. Hon. Martin C. Carlson Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation, et al., No. 09-2284, M.D. Pa.).
RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. - The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) journal "Environmental Health Perspectives" (EHP) on April 9 published a study that concluded that drilling unconventional oil and gas wells using hydraulic fracturing was connected to increased indoor radon concentrations in buildings in Pennsylvania.
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - The Maryland Senate on April 6 passed a measure that would prohibit hydraulic fracturing until 2018, pending a report to the governor examining scientific literature pertaining to the safety of fracking.
ALBANY, N.Y. - The New York Court of Appeals on March 31 ruled that oil and gas leases between residents and a hydraulic fracturing company were not extended because the force majeure clauses in those leases did not modify the primary term of the habendum clause, which the company had argued was triggered by the state's moratorium on fracking (Walter R. Beardslee, et al. v. Inflection Energy LLC, No. 44, N.Y. App.; 2015 N.Y. LEXIS 657).
NEW ORLEANS - A federal judge in Louisiana on March 30 ruled that a company engaged in acquiring property for hydraulic fracturing operations had sufficiently established enough of a case against its attorney for legal malpractice to allow discovery (L&L Properties 12 LLC v. Arnold Reyes, No. 14-671, E.D. La.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40521).