Gas-well ordeal finally ends well by Joan Demirjian, February 16, 2011, Chagrin Valley Times
It took three years to reach a settlement and finally closure for residents impacted by a leak from a gas well drilled off English Drive in Bainbridge. According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, gas seeped into nearby water wells from the Ohio Valley Energy well and caused an explosion in December 2007 at the home of Richard and Thelma Payne on English Drive. Residents who joined a lawsuit against the Austintown company now are being compensated for their inconvenience and suffering, according to Chardon attorney Dale Markowitz, who represented them. The case that was filed in Geauga County Common Pleas Court is officially settled, he said.
Forty-three households were involved in the class-action suit, and a lump sum was given to the residents, who then split it. The amount the residents received is confidential, Mr. Markowitz said. Bainbridge Township, which joined the suit, is to receive $50,000 for replacement of a water well and other expenses at its police station. A separate amount was given to Mr. and Mrs. Payne, whose house on English Drive was lifted off its foundation by the explosion.
Ohio Valley Energy and other companies involved with the drilling also paid off Nationwide Insurance, which had the coverage on the Paynes’ home.
Any right to recover the $1 million for the waterline that was installed to serve those whose wells were impacted has been waived by Ohio Valley Energy. “It was a good settlement for the clients,” Mr. Markowitz said. When he first heard about the explosion at the Payne house, he knew it had to be something to do with faulty drilling, he said. He has worked with gas and oil well leasing all over Northeast Ohio and helped with a number of regulations for drilling, he said. He worked with property owners with leasing for gas and oil wells. “The neighborhood off Bainbridge Road has no homeowners organization, and Ohio Department of Natural Resources wasn’t going to protect the people,” Mr. Markowitz said. “Our firm has expertise in that area,” he said. … Residents included those from English and Scotland drives, as well as Kingswood and Kenston Lake drives in the neighboring Kenston Lake subdivision. … In the case of the Ohio Valley Energy well, the drilling of the gas well allowed gas to migrate from deep below the surface to shallower shale formations where our clients obtained their fresh water from, through the use of their water wells. The gas leaked into the aquifer because of a poor cement job and the failure to vent the high-pressure gas, Mr. Flynn said. … ODNR had issued orders to monitor the situation but was not taking action to order Ohio Valley Energy to put in a waterline. … “I definitely think they have to be more careful. The state has to have better control.” Regarding the three-year ordeal, Mr. Mesmer said, “Thank goodness it’s over.” [Emphasis added]
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