Jury awards two Dimock Twp. families $4.24 million after Cabot offered a few thousand to Gag & Settle; Cabot plans appeal alleging ‘improper conduct’ by the families’ lawyer

List of the Harmed – an ever-growing list of the individuals and families that have been harmed by fracking (or fracked gas and oil production) in the US – is at 16,974 as of March 10, 2016, list compiled by Jenny Lisak, Co-director of PACWA

Dimock water, three years contaminated, FIX IT

March 10, 2016: Ely et al vs Cabot Oil & Gas Verdict sheet [MUST READ 6 easy pages]

2016 03 10 Ely et al vs Cabot Oil & Gas Corp VERDICT SHEET answers to question 1

2016 03 10 Ely et al vs Cabot Oil & Gas Corp VERDICT SHEET answers to question 2

2016 03 11 Pottsville, PA Dimock couples win millions in water well contamination case against Cabot Oil & Gas

Landmark precedent: Families win lawsuit over fracking contamination of groundwater by RT, March 11, 2016, Scott.net

This is a hopeful development, but we can expect a huge push-back from the O&G industry which will continue to bury the overwhelming evidence that fracking poses huge risks to human health and the environment.

A federal jury has ordered Cabot Oil & Gas to pay more than $4.24 million in damages to two families in Dimock, Pennsylvania, who claimed the company’s fracking operations contaminated their groundwater with methane.

The jury reached its verdict on Thursday in the lawsuit that accused the company of polluting the families’ well water as a result of its natural gas drilling operations, according to Reuters. Cabot Oil & Gas said it will appeal the verdict.

… “This has been an exhausting six and a half years,” Scott Ely said after the verdict, according to Reuters. Ely told the news outlet that Cabot “boxed them in,” by limiting evidence his attorney could introduce and what could be presented in testimony.

 The Elys were originally offered more than $150,000 and the Huberts $50,000, but they chose to press the case, believing the offers did not match the struggles they had been dealing with.

[Meanwhile in Frac’d to Hell Alberta, the energy regulator’s outside counsel Glenn Solomon summarizes how settlements & gags work to “shut up” cases of water contamination caused by fracing so that companies “get to do it again down the street”

2013 09 23 AER lawyer Glenn Solomon 'We'll just set you up with a tank system forever'

2013 09 23 AER lawyer Glenn Solomon 'by doing that, you shut up, regulators stay off our back, we get to do it again down the street'

“It’s been a battle,” Scott Ely told WNEP before the jury verdict. “I mean, you’re up against a multi-multi-multi-million dollar company. And you’ve seen the litigation team they had. I mean, they’re sitting there with six attorneys on their side. They had quite the team.”

During the two-day deliberations, jurors asked the judge for any guidance on how they might determine a dollar amount for damages in the case. [Emphasis added]

Jury awards last Dimock plaintiffs $4.2 million over water well contamination by Laura Legere, March 10, 2016, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

SCRANTON, Pa. — A federal jury on Thursday found Cabot Oil and Gas Corp. responsible for contaminating two Susquehanna County water wells through its natural gas drilling operations and awarded the families a total of $4.24 million.

The Ely and Hubert families of Dimock Township were the last plaintiffs in a high-profile case that began in 2009 and originally included 44 of the rural town’s residents who claimed shoddy Cabot wells drilled early in the Marcellus Shale gas boom allowed methane and other constituents to migrate into their drinking water.

Cabot maintains that anything tainting the water supplies is there naturally or comes from sources other than its operations.

… The trial in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania had started on Feb. 22 and stretched into a third week. The jury of four men and four women deliberated for about eight hours on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning before reaching its verdict that Cabot was negligent in drilling two of its early wells and created a nuisance by contaminating the families’ water wells.

In a statement, Texas-based Cabot said it is surprised by the verdict because the plaintiffs lacked evidence to support their nuisance claims.

“The verdict disregards overwhelming scientific and factual evidence that Cabot acted as a prudent operator in conducting its operations,” the company said.

Cabot’s attorneys indicated in court on Thursday that they will move to set aside the verdict because they said the plaintiffs’ attorney repeatedly mentioned excluded evidence and acted in other ways that prejudiced the jury against the company.

Cabot’s attorney Jeremy Mercer described it as a calculated effort “to throw skunks into the jury box.” [Or was it Cabot itself skunking up the jury box?]

Lawyers for Cabot oil and Gas leave the courthouse in Scranton

Butch Comegys/The Times & Tribune photos via AP
Lawyers for Cabot Oil and Gas leave the William J. Nealon Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in downtown Scranton.

The families’ attorney Leslie Lewis rebutted that charge as she stood outside the courthouse, embracing the tearful plaintiffs and their supporters.

The jury “really listened,” she said. “Nothing untoward occurred with the presentation of the case. They followed the truth, they followed the facts.”

Mr. Ely referred to the size and sophistication of Cabot’s legal team as he reflected on his years-long pursuit that included periods when he represented himself after most of the original plaintiffs settled in 2012.

“There were six Goliaths in there,” he said, “and all I had was just a little pea stone.”

A state investigation that began in 2009 concluded that Cabot was responsible for contaminating 18 Dimock water supplies with high levels of methane and metals. Residents had complained of brown, fetid water that was so full of gas it would cause a lit match to burst into flame.

Ray Kemble showing Dimock's Cabot contaminated water

Alex Wong/Getty Images
Ray Kemble show water samples collected from Dimock during a 2014 rally on fracking-related water investigations outside EPA’s Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

That drew the attention of federal regulators, the international press, celebrities, filmmakers and anti-fracking activists to the tiny community, which was described as a cautionary tale for other regions hoping to capitalize on advanced but invasive extraction technologies to release oil and gas from stubborn shale formations.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection barred Cabot from drilling new wells in a 9-square-mile section of the township in April 2010.

The prohibition still stands because regulators say the company has not yet met the terms of an agreement that requires Cabot to eliminate gas leaks from its wells and reduce methane concentrations in the affected water supplies to consistently low levels. The company also paid $4.6 million as part of the state settlement.

Much of the evidence the state used to justify those penalties was excluded from the Ely and Hubert case through pretrial rulings. [Emphasis added]

Pennsylvania families win $4.2 million damages in fracking lawsuit by David DeKok, March 10, 2016, Reuters.

HARRISBURG, Pa. – A federal jury ruled on Thursday that Cabot Oil & Gas Co must pay more than $4.2 million in damages to two families in northeastern Pennsylvania who said the company’s fracking operations contaminated their ground water.

Six jurors in federal court in Scranton awarded $1.3 million each to Scott Ely and Monica Marta-Ely, a married couple in Dimock. Each of their three children received an award of $50,000.

A second couple, Ray and Victoria Hubert, also of Dimock, about 32 miles (50 km) south of Binghamton, New York, each received $720,000, and their daughter Hope was awarded $50,000.

“This has been an exhausting 6-1/2 years,” Scott Ely said after the verdict.

He said Cabot fought hard and “boxed them in,” limiting the evidence his pro bono attorney, Leslie Lewis, could introduce, or what Ely could say in testimony.

“They are an arrogant company that bullies their way to what they want,” Ely said. “If they had just done the right thing, it would have been so much easier for them.”

Cabot spokesman George Stark said the company was surprised by the verdict, and again asserted there was no evidence linking contamination of the Ely and Hubert wells to their fracking operations.

“Cabot will be filing motions with the court to set the verdict aside based on the lack of evidence as well as conduct of plaintiff’s counsel calculated to deprive Cabot of a fair trial,” [Sore loser?] he said.

The Elys and Huberts were the last of more than 40 families who had sued Cabot. They alleged that their water was contaminated with methane gas after the company began using the process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to extract gas from underground shale formations near Dimock in 2008.

The other families settled with the company in 2012.

“We haven’t had clean water since he was in kindergarten,” said Monica Marta-Ely, referring to her 13-year-old son, Jared, before the trial began.

The family’s lawyer, Lewis, accused Cabot of “reckless disregard” for the families’ safety.

Dimock gained notoriety in the 2010 documentary “Gasland” by Josh Fox. It showed local residents lighting their tap water on fire because of the high amount of methane it contained.

Stephen Dillard, a lawyer for Cabot, argued in court that the methane occurred naturally [That’s what companies say in court and publicly, but not what they say in their research papers] and was not caused by the company’s drilling operations. He contended that the ground water, while aesthetically displeasing, was safe to drink. [Emphasis added]

Natural?EESGasMigrationBriefPDFLink

The Science is Deafening: More information on industry’s gas migration into citizen drinking water supplies

Pennsylvania families win $4.24M verdict against gas driller by Michael Rubinkam, March 10, 2016, The Associated Press in philly.com
Two couples were awarded nearly $4.25 million on Thursday after a federal jury found one of the largest natural gas producers in Pennsylvania was responsible for the contamination of their well water, capping a six-year odyssey [Ernst’s is into year 12] that turned their sleepy village into a battleground over the nation’s shale drilling and hydraulic fracturing boom.

The verdict in Scranton came at the end of a bitter lawsuit pitting homeowners in Dimock against Houston-based Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. The company, a prolific driller in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale formation, said it will appeal, accusing the jury of ignoring “overwhelming scientific and factual evidence that Cabot acted as a prudent operator in conducting its operations.”

Dimock was the scene of the most highly publicized case of methane contamination to emerge from the early days of Pennsylvania’s natural-gas drilling boom. State regulators blamed faulty gas wells drilled by Cabot for leaking combustible methane into Dimock’s groundwater. Cabot claimed the methane was naturally occurring and said the problems in the water wells predated Cabot’s arrival. [Encana claims the same in the Ernst vs Encana lawsuit, and if not that, then Ernst’s mental state.] 

Dozens of plaintiffs settled with Cabot in 2012, but two families opted to take their claims to trial.

“They did something wrong. That was the whole point of getting it into the courtroom,” one of the plaintiffs, Scott Ely, told reporters outside the courthouse.

Residents first reported problems in the wells in 2008. The water that came out of their faucets turned cloudy, foamy and discolored, and it smelled and tasted foul. Homeowners, all of whom had leased their land to Cabot, said the water made them sick with symptoms that included vomiting, dizziness and skin rashes.

A state investigation found that Cabot had allowed gas to escape into the region’s groundwater supplies, contaminating at least 18 residential wells.

The plaintiffs’ attorney called the verdict a warning shot that will resonate beyond the courtroom.

“Cabot doesn’t care. Industry doesn’t care. They’re the big bucks. Their influence is wide and far. … It’s fine with me if industry takes a big fat hit,” Leslie Lewis said. [Emphasis added]

$4.25 million award in ‘Gasland’ fracking suit, A federal jury has awarded two couples nearly $4.25 million after finding one of the largest natural- gas drillers in Pennsylvania polluted their well water by the Associated Press, March 10, 2016, The Washington Post

The verdict Thursday comes at the end of a bitter and long-running federal lawsuit pitting homeowners in the village of Dimock against Houston-based Cabot Oil & Gas.

Dimock was the scene of the most highly publicized case of methane contamination to emerge from the early days of Pennsylvania’s natural-gas drilling boom. State regulators blamed faulty gas wells drilled by Cabot for leaking combustible methane into Dimock’s groundwater. Cabot claimed the methane occurred naturally.

… Residents’ problems were featured in the Emmy-winning 2010 documentary “Gasland.”

Federal jury awards $4.24 million to Dimock families in fracking case by Susan Phillips, March 10, 2016, State Impact

An eight-member federal jury found Cabot Oil and Gas negligent and ordered the driller to pay a total of $4.24 million to two Dimock families for polluting their well water starting back in 2008. [Encana illegally frac’d Rosebud’s drinking water supply in 2004] The company says it will appeal the decision.

Only two families out of the original 44 plaintiffs in the case against Cabot Oil and Gas went to trial after years of delays, lack of representation, and legal setbacks. Lead plaintiff Scott Ely worked for the driller before becoming a whistleblower.

“I saw so much on these job sites,” he said after the verdict. “I’m not only working for them I’m also a resident and as I’m working for them, I end up becoming a victim of it.”

Ely testified that even today, his water is still brown and muddy. He says he persisted with the case even when his original attorneys had dropped out and he had to represent himself. The other plaintiffs settled with the company and signed nondisclosure agreements that prevent them from speaking about their water issues. Ely says he always wanted his day in court.

“This is America and we’re supposed to stand up for ourselves,” he said. “There’s a lot of neighbors who couldn’t be here. It’s like [I’m] sharing their voices, the ones who couldn’t get into the courtroom. [The jury] is vindicating them.”

Dimock’s water troubles date back to 2008, when Cabot Oil and Gas began drilling in Susquehanna County. In 2009, the Department of Environmental Protection found the company responsible for contaminating the village water supplies with methane. But the plaintiff attorneys were not allowed to present that as evidence.

The publicity surrounding the case of Dimock’s water helped touch off a global anti-fracking movement.

Filmmaker Josh Fox brought attention to Dimock’s struggle with Cabot Oil and Gas in the documentary Gasland.

“The gas industry and the frackers went down in the flames of Dimock’s water today,” he told StateImpact. “The sense of relief and joy and vindication, it’s beyond words.”

Scott Ely and his wife Monica Marta-Ely each received $1.3 million while their three children were awarded $50,000 each. Ray and Victoria Hubert, who are tenants on the Ely’s property each received $720,000 and their daughter was awarded $50,000.

The Ely and Hubert’s attorney Leslie Lewis said she was “enormously relieved” by the verdict.

“Using actual evidence, they were able to find the truth,” Lewis said.

Lewis says members of the jury told Monica Marta-Ely that they were impressed by the testimony of her children.

Cabot Oil and Gas says the company is surprised by the decision and will appeal. In a statement, the gas driller says the jury’s verdict “disregards overwhelming scientific and factual evidence that Cabot acted as a prudent operator in conducting its operations.” The company said it would be filing motions to appeal “based upon lack of evidence as well as conduct of plaintiff’s counsel calculated to deprive Cabot of a fair trial.”

Plaintiff’s attorney Elisabeth Radow said she had no comment about Cabot’s statement. But she did say the system worked in this case.

“This is a good day,” she said. “This is a really good day. The jury listened to these people and they listened to what they said. They believed they were honest and they were credible and that’s where the vote went.” [Emphasis added]

BREAKING: $4.2 Million Jury Verdict Against Cabot Oil & Gas in Dimock, PA Water Contamination Lawsuit by Sharon Kelly, March 10, 2016, Desmogblog.com

A Pennsylvania jury handed down a $4.2 million verdict in a lawsuit centering on water contamination from negligent shale gas drilling in Dimock, PA, a tiny town that made international headlines for its flammable and toxic drinking water.

The defendant in the lawsuit, Cabot Oil and Gas Corp., had strenuously denied that it had caused any harm to the plaintiffs or their drinking water. In 2012, the company reached a settlement with roughly 40 other residents along Carter Road in Dimock, but the terms of that settlement were never made public and included a “non-disparagement” clause that prevents those who settled from speaking out about their experiences with Cabot.

The verdict, which was reported by the Associated Press, comes as long-awaited vindication for the Hubert and Ely families, who had refused to settle in part because they wanted their voices heard, they said at a press conference when the trial began in Scranton on February 22.

The lawsuit had stretched on for roughly seven years, and the plaintiffs were at one point forced to represent themselves in court after being unable to find legal counsel following the settlement of the vast majority of the plaintiffs.

The Huberts and the Elys still live on Carter Road, hauling their water by truck – a chore that became far more cumberson in the winter when hoses often froze and water tanks must be heated, Scott Ely, a former Cabot subcontractor turned whistleblower, had testified.

The Ely family, which owns the land on which the Huberts reside, would receive $2.75 million and the Hubert family $1.49 million, one local television station is reporting. Because the lawsuit had been narrowed dramatically before trial, the plaintiffs were not permitted to pursue Cabot for any harms done to their health, but only for the damage to property and the personal nuisance that the water contamination had caused.

The case has been closely watched by the oil and gas industry, which has often reached secret settlements in claims of drilling and fracking contamination – creating uncertainty about the frequency and extent of accidents and misconduct.

State and federal environmental regulators have cited non-disclosure agreements as a major hurdle preventing a full assessment of the risks related to the shale oil and gas drilling rush.

The lawsuit pitted solo practitioner Leslie Lewis and attorney Elisabeth Radow against a team of litigators and attorneys from Norton Rose Fulbright, a London-based law firm which in 2014 was the seventh highest-grossing law firm in the world.

Representatives for Cabot denied that the Ely and Hubert families had proven their case sufficiently despite the jury’s verdict and continued to assert that the company had acted prudently in its operations on Carter Road. “Cabot is surprised at the jury’s verdict given the lack of evidence provided by plaintiffs in support of their nuisance claim,” the company said in a statement provided to DeSmog. “Cabot will be filing motions with the Court to set the verdict aside based upon lack of evidence as well as conduct of plaintiff’s counsel calculated to deprive Cabot of a fair trial.”

Of course, the role of a jury is to determine what claims are true and what claims are false, a fact that plaintiff’s attorneys had reminded the 8-member panel during closing arguments.

“The truth is to be found in the totality of the evidence,” Ms. Lewis had said, according to local press reports. “It’s very important that when a company like Cabot harms Pennsylvania families … that the courts are a sanctuary for people to seek justice.”

Further updates will be added as more information becomes available.

Ely verdict photoPhoto Credit: The Ely family outside the U.S. District Court in Scranton, PA on the day that trial began. © 2016 Laura Evangelisto

Some of the comments:

There are many more nuisance lawsuits filed against gas companies in PA and WV. Let’s hope this starts an avalanche that lets the drillers know they are responsible for their actions where they drill. Congrats to the families in this case. Look for more cases to com

And look for more governments working to bury those cases:

“West Virginia politicians vote in law to take away frac harmed citizens’ right to sue. Judge Derek Swope: ‘Would I want one of these wells next to my property? I live in the country on a rural road, and the answer is no.’”

http://www.ernstversusencana.c…

Cabot got off cheap. The jury should have fined them 50 million dollars. What a disgrace to destroy people’s water, animals, and lives. Now every fracking company can get its just desserts. The sooner the better.

Some small bit of justice in this long run of exploitation of both people and the earth. Some important fracking cases were heard yesterday in PA Supreme Court. Fingers crossed for the outcomes of those and other lawsuits around the state.

So it turns out that there was nothing in here about fracking causing water pollution, only negligence and nuisance in terms of noise and truck traffic and whatnot?

Anyone living in the same township as a rock quarry could claim the same thing. What a crock, so now we all know that big machines making noise and driving up and down the road can be sued for making noise and driving up and down the road. And the EPA was right in that nobody can find any systemic pollution of groundwater because of fracking, and certainly no one in this law suit won any money for THAT kind of harm, as compared to the normal stuff of living near an industrial operation. What a gip.

“And the EPA was right in that nobody can find any systemic pollution of groundwater because of fracking, and certainly no one in this law suit won any money for THAT kind of harm”

Nobody can find? That’s a silly statement. Whenever the industry LOSES their oil, gas, produced water, frac fluid etc., there’s always someone who FINDS it, and most times, it’s a public health threat, which is why gag orders are so important; industry’s toxic, carcinogenic contamination remains lost, and the finders are disappeared; vanquished and relegated to the realm of nothingness. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for industry’s contamination and the public health threat; it remains. I’m sure it’s been somewhat difficult for the EPA when they find an industry mess, and have to deal with the corruption, criminal activities, and political bullshit involved. The EPA knows better, but the political heat is on.

I think one of their Scientific Advisory Board members summed-up the EPA’s draft frac report perfectly when he stated:

“Put another way, there are about 700 pages (24,000 lines) presenting the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on water resources and human health but only 2 lines concluding that it is not a universal problem. Talk about a surprise ending!

— Dr. Scott Blair”

That is a surprise ending. But not surprising, are the EPA’s censored findings on what they found in Dimock:

“DeSmogBlog has obtained a copy of an Obama Administration Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fracking groundwater contamination PowerPoint presentation describing a then-forthcoming study’s findings in Dimock, Pennsylvania.

The PowerPoint presentation reveals a clear link between hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’) for shale gas in Dimock and groundwater contamination, but was censored by the Obama Administration. Instead, the EPA issued an official desk statement in July 2012 – in the thick of election year – saying the water in Dimock was safe for consumption.

Titled ‘Isotech-Stable Isotype Analysis: Determinining the Origin of Methane and Its Effects on the Aquifer,’ the PowerPoint presentation concludes that in Cabot Oil and Gas’ Dimock Gesford 2 well, ‘Drilling creates pathways, either temporary or permanent, that allows gas to migrate to the shallow aquifer near [the] surface…In some cases, these gases disrupt groundwater quality.’

Other charts depict Cabot’s Gesford 3 and 9 wells as doing much of the same, allowing methane to migrate up to aquifers to unprecedented levels – not coincidentally – coinciding with the wells being fracked. The PowerPoint’s conclusions are damning.

‘Methane is released during the drilling and perhaps during the fracking process and other gas well work,’ the presentation states. ‘Methane is at significantly higher concentrations in the aquifers after gas drilling and perhaps as a result of fracking and other gas well work…Methane and other gases released during drilling (including air from the drilling) apparently cause significant damage to the water quality.’

… Scott Ely – a former Cabot employee and Dimock resident who has three small children and whose water was contaminated by Cabot – expressed similar despair over EPA abandoning ship in this high-profile study.

‘When does anybody just stand by the truth? Why is it that we have a bunch of people in Washington, DC who are trying to manipulate the truth of what’s happening to people in Dimock because of the industry?,’ Ely asked rhetorically.

Ely says he keeps an open line of communications with EPA employees, who regularly check in and caution him not to use his water. The employees remain unidentified for fear of retribution by EPA upper-level management.

‘We thought EPA was going to come in and be our savior. And what’d they do? They said the truth can’t be known: hide it, drop it, forget about it.'”

http://desmogblog.com/2013/08/…

Thankfully, the families in this case didn’t “hide it, drop it, or forget about it,” and the truth prevailed. And I think you’ll be seeing more lawsuits and more of these verdicts in these industry contamination cases; not everyone will let themselves, their families, – and the truth – be vanquished.

As former PA Supreme Court Chief Justice Castille so aptly wrote:

“‘By any responsible account … the exploitation of the Marcellus Shale Formation will produce a detrimental effect on the environment, on the people, their children, and the future generations, and potentially on the public purse, perhaps rivaling the environmental effects of coal extraction.’”

And at some point, I think you’ll also see more criminal investigations into the criminal activities by companies, regulators and governments working feverishly to cover-up industry’s rampant contamination, and bridge abutments may see a lot more action.

“Public Herald 30-Month Report Finds DEP Fracking Complaint Investigations Are ‘Cooked’ & Shredded

During the 2011 Atgas blowout investigation in Bradford County, Chesapeake Energy was allowed to dismiss their own pre-drill water test results to avoid liability for contaminating a water supply. This simple act by DEP ended up changing the background water quality data for the area, creating an artificial history of drinking water quality that could be used to dismiss other complaint cases.

In the recent report published at Public Herald, we uncovered a total of nine ways that officials at the DEP kept drinking water contamination across Pennsylvania, like the Atgas blowout case, ‘off the books.’

In Delmar Township, Tioga County, we found a single inspector cooked nine of 27 cases, a likely 33% increase in the total number of polluted water supplies.

Some of these cases were cooked when the inspector ignored clean pre-drill test results to rule that oil and gas operations were not responsible for water damage.

Or, the inspector would use a contaminated post-drill test provided by industry as if it was a pre-drill test.”

http://publicherald.org/public…

If you wish to discuss any ONE of the points your reference has raised, that is fine. But I’m not responding to a carpet bombing of cut and paste on a topic and procedure that you, yourself, may know absolutely NOTHING about. [Too cowardly to respond to a tiny bit of science and truth?]

“If you wish to discuss any ONE of the points your reference has raised, that is fine.”

Thanks, but I see no need to limit a comment to only one point. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and “carpet bombed” just by reading the truth, imagine how the frac’d families feel – who are living it.

“But I’m not responding to a carpet bombing of cut and paste on a topic and procedure that you, yourself, may know absolutely NOTHING about.”

No worries Bud, there’s really not much for you to say, truth is truth, can’t argue with it – so you may as well embrace it – and congratulate the families in this case. They deserve it, and justice was served.

Now if someone would just find a way to fix Dimock’s industry contaminated aquifer, and clean it up, so more of Dimock isn’t rendered uninhabitable, and they can get rid of this new math for investors:

A company pays $167,500 for a family’s home and land they’ve contaminated, they pay $25,000 to demolish the home, and then unload the contaminated property and liability onto the neighbour for $4,000.

The home is now gone, and another can NEVER be built on this now uninhabitable site.

“No one will ever live at 1101 Carter Road in Dimock again.

The 3.6-acre property is one of 18 in the Susquehanna County village where state environmental regulators in 2009 traced methane contamination in the water supplies back to faulty natural gas wells drilled by Cabot Oil and Gas Corp.

The last residents, Craig and Julie Sautner, were once outspoken critics of natural gas development. As part of a confidential settlement that ended their part in a bitter lawsuit against the company, the Sautners sold their property to Susquehanna Real Estate I Corp., a Cabot subsidiary, for $167,500 in August 2012 and moved out of the state.

Last month, Cabot had the home demolished, leaving the lot largely empty save for a yard sign for Dimock Proud, a community group that supports natural gas drilling and promotes a positive image of the township’s environment.

Now, Cabot has sold the property, minus the oil and gas rights, to a neighboring family for $4,000.

The deed stipulates that a home can never be built on the parcel: No building, according to the deed’s careful conditions, ‘shall be erected as or for or used or occupied as a residence or dwelling for human habitation.’

The restriction applies ‘forever.'”

http://stateimpact.npr.org/pen…

No contaminate water, huh? Watch this video where two Cornell professors talk about all the dead farm animals in PA (and the people who are sick). Of course, you can’t trust Cornell professors, can you They just make stuff up.

Jury awards two Dimock Twp. couples $4.24 million; Cabot plans appeal by Terrie Morgan-Besecker, March 10, 2016, The Times Tribune

Excellent 12 Min video at above link.

Dimock Township residents Nolen Scott Ely and his wife Monica Marta-Ely were awarded $ 2.75 million dollars by a federal jury on Thursday, March 10, 2016, at the William J. Nealon Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in downtown Scranton, after finding Cabot Oil & Gas based in Houston, Texas responsible for contaminating their well water.

Another Dimock Township couple Raymond and Victoria Hubert were awarded $ 1.49 million dollars.

Both families alleged that Cabot was negligent in drilling two natural gas wells near their Susquehanna County homes, which contained their wells with high levels of Methane.

Both families have been pursuing the case for 6 years after rejecting a settlement offer in 2012.

A federal jury awarded two Dimock Twp. couples $4.24 million today after finding Cabot Oil & Gas responsible for contaminating their well water.

The verdict comes following 8.5 hours of deliberations over two days.

The decision following the 14-day trial is a huge victory for Nolen Scott Ely, his wife, Monica-Marta Ely and Raymond and Victoria Hubert, who pursued the case for six years after rejecting a settlement offer in 2012.

The Elys and Huberts sued Cabot in 2009, accusing the Houston-based company of negligence in drilling two natural gas wells near the Susquehanna County homes, which they say contaminated their wells with high levels of methane. Cabot maintains the methane is naturally occurring. [All methane is naturally occurring, what is not natural is oil and gas wells leaking methane and other gases, and hydraulic fracturing forcing methane to release from underground formations]

“Oh my God! They heard! They heard!” said a tearful Leslie Lewis, attorney for the Elys and Huberts, as she hugged a supporter after exiting the courtroom at the federal courthouse in Scranton.

The panel awarded Mr. and Mrs. Ely $2.6 million and their three children $50,000 each.

The Huberts were awarded $1.4 million, while another of their family members was awarded $50,000.

An attorney for Cabot immediately vowed to appeal the verdict, advising U.S. Magistrate Judge Martin Carlson the company will file a motion to set aside the award based on alleged improper conduct of Ms. Lewis during the trial.

Attorney Jeremy Mercer said they believe the jury was prejudiced against Cabot by statements Ms. Lewis made throughout the trial regarding evidence that had been excluded and by making several comments that implied Cabot was “hiding something.”

“Without plaintiff’s counsel’s conduct, the evidence in this case did not allow for a jury to reach the verdict it did,” Mr. Mercer said. [Emphasis added]

Driller must pay for Dimock, Pa., contamination — jury by Ellen M. Gilmer, E&E News

An oil and gas driller is on the hook for the high-profile case of Pennsylvania water contamination that has stoked opposition to hydraulic fracturing across the country for years, a jury decided today.

After a three-week trial at the U.S. District Court in Scranton, a 10-person jury decided that Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. should be held responsible for two families’ water problems. The case boiled down to nuisance claims that the families could not enjoy their property because of Cabot’s actions (EnergyWire, March 8).

Early news reports say Cabot must pay $2.75 million to the Ely family and $1.49 million to the Hubert family, the only remaining litigants in a lawsuit that began in 2009 with more than 40 plaintiffs — most of whom settled in 2012.

The jury deliberated most of yesterday evening and continued this morning before handing up the decision just before lunchtime.

The verdict closes the book on years of litigation and investigations into whether the company’s Marcellus Shale wells fouled drinking water in the northeast Pennsylvania township of Dimock eight years ago.

Featured in the anti-fracking film “Gasland,” Dimock’s brown, odorous and flammable water became emblematic of problems that could arise as fracking and horizontal drilling sparked a rapid expansion of shale development across the country. State regulators eventually determined that private water wells were contaminated with methane — a problem associated not with fracking but with shoddy well construction. U.S. EPA in 2012 found that fracking fluid did not contaminate the water.

Josh Fox, creator of “Gasland,” told Greenwire he was “overjoyed” by the news. “People say this was like David and Goliath,” he said. “Well, we just got a reminder of how that story ends.”

Leslie Lewis, the attorney representing the Ely and Hubert families, did not respond by deadline to a request for comment. Grass-roots environmental groups celebrated the news.

“The outcome of this trial is the inevitable result of the processes used in the drilling,” said B. Arrindell, director of the anti-fracking group Damascus Citizens for Sustainability, adding later:

“This vindication of the suffering and damage is long-awaited and a tribute to the strength of the plaintiffs, their lawyers and the evidence.”

Cabot has denied responsibility all along, pointing to natural methane levels that have existed in the region’s groundwater for years. The company had hoped the trial would present an opportunity to move past the often-emotional debate over the risks of development in the area. Instead, the verdict is likely to spark renewed tension among industry, landowners and environmentalists. [Truth is powerful; powerful also are families who refuse to run away, refuse to gag and settle, instead stand tall for water, the public interest, their neighbours and communities – including those next to be frac’d and polluted “down the street.” Bravo Bravo to the families, their witnesses, and legal team.]

Cabot spokesman George Stark said the verdict was surprising and not based on science, and said Cabot would try to get the decision thrown out.

“Cabot is surprised at the jury’s verdict given the lack of evidence provided by plaintiffs in support of their nuisance claim,” he said in a statement. “The verdict disregards overwhelming scientific and factual evidence that Cabot acted as a prudent operator in conducting its operations. Cabot will be filing motions with the Court to set the verdict aside based upon lack of evidence as well as conduct of plaintiff’s counsel calculated to deprive Cabot of a fair trial.” [Emphasis added]

Pennsylvania Families Win $4.24M Verdict Against Gas Driller by The Associated Press, March 10, 2016, 16 WNEP

SCRANTON, Pa. — A federal jury has awarded two couples nearly $4.25 million after finding one of the largest natural gas drillers in Pennsylvania polluted their well water.

The verdict Thursday comes at the end of a bitter and long-running federal lawsuit pitting homeowners in the village of Dimock against Houston-based Cabot Oil & Gas Corp.

Dimock was the scene of the most highly publicized case of methane contamination to emerge from the early days of Pennsylvania’s natural-gas drilling boom. State regulators blamed faulty gas wells drilled by Cabot for leaking combustible methane into Dimock’s groundwater. Cabot claimed the methane was naturally occurring.

The rural community became a national battleground in environmental activists’ fight against fracking, and its plight was featured in the Emmy-winning 2010 documentary “Gasland.” [Emphasis added]

Residents Explain Why They Settled in Cabot Lawsuit by Carmella Mataloni, February 23, 2016, 16 WNEP

DIMOCK TOWNSHIP — The issue of contaminated water is now the center of a civil lawsuit filed by two families in Susquehanna County against Cabot Oil and Gas.

Opening statements were heard Tuesday in that lawsuit being heard in federal court in Scranton.

The families suing Cabot talked with the media on Monday about what they claim is dirty, tainted water that they cannot drink from the taps.

They blame the contamination on Cabot’s drilling for natural gas, but dozens of other people near Dimock decided not to be part of this lawsuit and instead settled with Cabot.

Some of the people from Dimock Township who settled with Cabot Oil and Gas back in 2012 told us they did that simply because they couldn’t fight the natural gas company anymore.

Ronald Carter and his wife Jean were among 44 Dimock Township residents who sued Cabot Oil and Gas in November of 2009 for allegedly contaminating their drinking water.

In 2012, they, along with most of the other residents, settled with the natural gas company. The two remaining families who did not settle are now fighting in federal court.

Why did the others choose to settle?

“Tired of it,” said Ronald Carter. “It had gone on long enough that it was too hard to put up with.”

Because of a gag order, they couldn’t discuss their settlements. They did tell us they are still not able to drink their water or use it for certain tasks.

“We don’t drink the water or cook with it, but we do everything else with it,” Carter said.

Diana Horn has lived in Dimock Township for five years. A gas pad sits not far from her mobile home.

She wasn’t around long enough to be a part of the 2009 lawsuit but her stepson was. Now, she supports the Hubert and Ely families who’ve taken Cabot to court.

“The water is only good for washing dishes and (taking) a shower. If you got a water system it’s OK but you still can’t drink the water,” said Horn.

Those who live along Carter Road who chose to settle with the natural gas company tell us they made that decision because they hoped it would put an end to their frustrations. Now, many of them drive more than 20 minutes to get water from a well in Montrose.

Pat Farnelli tells us she settled because it seemed like fighting wasn’t worth it. She worries about what she can do with her home in the future.

“We’ve been told you can’t get a mortgage on a home this close to a gas well. We have also been told the value of our house has gone down. So yeah, we are going to have issues.”

Those people we spoke to wish the Ely and Hubert families luck in their lawsuit and hope to put the water woes in the Dimock Township area in the past soon. [Emphasis added]

[Refer also to:

2014: Dimock: Judge rules Monica and Scott Ely lawsuit against Cabot Oil for methane contamination of their water can proceed with a negligence claim

2014: EPA Defends Three Abandoned Fracking Investigations: Cabot Oil & Gas at Dimock, Range Resources at Parker Co, Encana at Pavillion; EPA Says it Will Work With States to Prevent Pollution

2013: Cabot buys second methane polluted residential property in Dimock 12-acre parcel on Carter Road flanked by faulty gas wells

2013: This once was HOME: Fracking Bombs in Parker County, TX and Battleground Dimock property sold, deed bars owners from building home there “forever”

2013: Cabot Oil Demolishes Sautners past home in Dimock, PA

20143: Bribe & Fraud Much? Hazleton students could get gas class paid for by Cabot Gas and Oil, the company fined for contaminating residential water wells in Dimock

2013: EPA Fracking Study Rebukes Agency’s Own Safety Claims, DeSmog Exclusive: Censored EPA PA fracking water contamination In Dimock, opponent neither surprised nor hopeful over EPA leak of information on water contaminated with methane

2013: Isotopic fingerprints don’t lie; people do; Internal EPA report suggests methane from hydraulic fracturing contaminated wells at Dimock, Pa

“The presentation, based on data collected over 4 1/2 years at 11 wells around Dimock, concluded that ‘methane and other gases released during drilling (including air from the drilling) apparently cause significant damage to the water quality.’ The presentation also concluded that ‘methane is at significantly higher concentrations in the aquifers after gas drilling and perhaps as a result of fracking [hydraulic fracturing] and other gas well work,” Banerjee further explained.

2013 08 05 Gas in Gas EPA Dimock Water Contamination slide_one

2013 08 05 EPA slide_two drilling releases methane and other gases that cause significant damage to water qualitySlides above from the EPA’s secret presentation admitting the water at Dimock was contaminated by industry, not nature.

2013: DEP opens investigation of methane in Dimock water well, Cabot providing safe water

2012: Hearing board judge reinstates Dimock family’s appeal of methane fix

2012: Water samples suggest Dimock’s methane problem hasn’t dried up

2012: Are leaking wells letting methane get into Dimock’s water?

2012: Federal health officials to assess Dimock pollution risk Probe follows positive tests by EPA for hazards in aquifer

2012: Dimock Water Still a Concern

2012: Dimock residents, Cabot settle, Residents had alleged that their drinking water was contaminated by gas driller

2012: Pa.drilling town agrees to settlement in fracking federal lawsuit, Documents indicate that residents of Dimock Township, Pa., who claim their water was poisoned by fracking, have reached a confidential settlement in a lawsuit that has been ongoing since 2009

2012: Cabot, Dimock families near settlement on gas drilling contamination

2012: EPA says Dimock water safe, but Cabot still can’t drill there

2012: EPA releases last Dimock water tests

2012: State investigating possible stray gas case near area of past problems in Dimock

2012: Chemistry Prof Questions Safety Of Dimock, Pa. Water, Challenges EPA

2012: No EPA action after 16 more Dimock well tests

2012: So, Is Dimock’s Water Really Safe to Drink?

2012: About That Dimock Fracking Study: Result Summaries Show Methane and Hazardous Chemicals

2012: Dimock: water supplies tested by EPA

2012: Dimock, Pennsylvania: Water Tested As EPA Heightens Scrutiny

2011: EPA: Dimock water supplies ‘merit further investigation’

2011: Federal environmental and health agencies collect data from Dimock families

2011: DEP: Cabot OK to stop Dimock water deliveries

2011: Dimock residents tell cautionary tales on gas drilling

2011: DEP cites persistent flaws in Cabot wells and keeps drilling on hold in parts of Dimock

2010: Dimock residents see “dirty tricks” in Cabot document

2010: Judge denies gas driller’s motion to dismiss Dimock lawsuit

2010: Natural gas debate: Proposed water pipeline pits neighbor against neighbor in Dimock

2010: Private lab finds toxic chemicals in Dimock water

2009: Dimock families sue Cabot, Gas drilling fallout

2009: Poisoning Dimock, Lawsuit Challenges Cabot Oil’s Drilling Practices in the Marcellus Shale

2009: Dimock families sue natural gas driller

Image of Ernst’s contaminated water by FrackingCanada was created in 2012.

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