| July 15
July 15 A Texas judge upheld a $3 million jury
verdict by ruling in favor of a family who claimed that oil and
gas drilling near their land made them sick, in a landmark case
hailed as a victory by anti-fracking activists.
Last week's ruling, confirmed by lawyers on Tuesday, is the
latest step in a three-year case that began when Bob and Lisa
Parr filed suit against a handful of oil companies claiming that
fumes from drilling around their 40-acre (16-hectare) ranch
exposed them and their livestock to hazardous gases and
Some of the initial claims related to hydraulic fracturing,
or fracking, operations were settled out of court or dismissed,
leaving the couple, who have a young daughter, to face Aruba
Petroleum in a jury trial in Dallas County Court.
In April, the jury awarded the Parrs $275,000 for the drop
in their property value, $2.4 million for past physical
suffering and mental anguish and $250,000 for future harm.
Judge Mark Greenberg on July 9 entered a final judgment for
the Parrs and denied Aruba's bid to overturn the multimillion
dollar jury award.
Aruba, an energy driller focused on the Barnett Shale
formation in Texas, will request a new trial and if that fails
will appeal the ruling, said the company's lawyer Michael
The amount awarded was far lower than the maximum damages of
$66 million sought by the Parrs, but the ruling is seen as a
success story for residents who oppose the impacts of a drilling
boom that has swept the country over the past decade.
"If the court of appeals upholds this judgment it will have
huge implications for people living around fracking operations,"
said the Parrs' attorney David Matthews.
The Parrs' case is one of the first complaints of its kind
to make it in front of a jury. The family was featured in the
anti-fracking documentary "Gasland Part II" by filmmaker Josh
Mazzone said the family's claims were not about fracking per
se - a controversial technique that involves injecting water,
sand and chemicals underground to release oil or gas - but
instead about air emissions on the surface from diesel-powered
trucks and gas wells.
Oil and gas drilling has a long history in Wise County where
the Parrs live in eastern Texas, but there has been an expansion
of activity in the area as more drillers flood in to extract gas
from the Barnett Shale. Aruba is one of dozens of companies
operating hundreds of wells in the region.
The case is Parr v. Aruba Petroleum, Inc. in the Dallas
County Court at Law No. 5, cc-11-01650-E.
(Reporting by Mica Rosenberg; Editing by Edward McAllister and