Tulsa-based oil and gas company fails to avoid class-action status in lawsuit filed by Prague earthquake victims by Corey Jones, Nov 16, 2019, Tulsaworld
A state appeals panel on Friday affirmed a lower court’s decision to certify a class-action lawsuit against oil and gas companies for victims of the Prague earthquakes from eight years ago.
Jennifer Cooper claims her home sustained more than $100,000 in damage. She purchased it near the small town for $117,000 in 2010. Her lawsuit, filed in February 2015, contends one quake “sounded as if a helicopter was landing on their roof,” joined by the cacophony of glass breaking as the home shook.
The Prague earthquake sequence in November 2011 included a magnitude 4.8 foreshock and 4.8 aftershock that sandwiched the main 5.7 quake.
Tulsa-based New Dominion LLC filed the appeal.
In a 3-0 decision, the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals panel agreed with the Lincoln County District Court’s ruling 16 months ago to certify the lawsuit as a class in a nine-county region.
New Dominion’s overarching argument, as summarized by the panel, is there are too many individualized determinations to be made in the case to justify class treatment.
“In its order, the trial court noted that ‘there is no ‘one, easy fix’ for this type of litigation. Both alternatives are complex, unique and difficult to manage,’” the panel wrote. “However, because the more expert-intensive issue is common to the class, this factor weights heavily in favor of class certification.” [Unbelievable to see such fair reasonable common sense by a court!]
The panel also highlighted that the trial court determined class certification would eliminate the “expert-intensive” barrier for hundreds or thousands of plaintiffs weighing litigation, as well as unnecessary duplication of the exchange of evidence already conducted in the case.
“New Dominion also argues that the difficulties in managing a class action suit such as this one will be overwhelming due to the necessity of potentially hundreds of ‘mini trials’ regarding the issues of causation of specific damage and the quantum of damage,” the panel wrote. “However, as argued by Plaintiff, New Dominion fails to provide support for why the alternative — potentially hundreds of thousands of ‘full blown trials’ — would be superior.”
Spess Oil Co., Equal Energy US Inc., and Fairfield Oil & Gas Corp. settled the lawsuit in November for $925,000.
The counties in the lawsuit are Lincoln, Payne, Logan, Oklahoma, Cleveland, Pottawatomie, Seminole, Okfuskee and Creek.
Refer also to: