Earthquake lawsuit gains class-action status by Adam Wilmoth, May 22, 2019, NewsOK
A lawsuit claiming oil company New Dominion LLC is responsible for damage caused by the 2011 earthquakes near Prague has gained class-action status and is scheduled for trial in September.
Judge Lori Walkley ruled Friday that the class includes Oklahoma citizens with residential or business property in nine central Oklahoma counties that suffered damage from the November 2011 earthquakes. The class includes properties in Cleveland, Creek, Lincoln, Logan, Oklahoma, Okfuskee, Payne, Pottawatomie and Seminole counties.
“It’s very important to the class members and to my clients, and it allows the process to be as efficient as possible,” said Scott Poynter, the attorney who is representing the affected home and business owners.
Fred Buxton, New Dominion’s vice president and general council declined to comment Monday.
“We don’t comment on pending litigation,” he said.
The lawsuit claims that New Dominion’s wastewater disposal operations caused a trio of November 2011 earthquakes, including a magnitude-5.7, which was the strongest quake in recorded state history until a magnitude-5.8 quake struck near Pawnee in September 2016.
Walkley scheduled the trial to begin Sept. 10.
Affected home and business owners in the nine-county area are considered to be in the class unless they opt out. If the lawsuit is successful, class members would be able to file claims with the court.
“We intend to prove in September the science behind induced seismicity and how these quakes in 2011 were caused by New Dominion’s operations,” Poynter. “That decision will be binding on all participants.”
It is unclear how many people qualify as class members, but Poynter said the Federal Emergency Management Administration inspected about 400 homes at the time and some business owners received low-interest disaster loans to help pay for repairs following the quakes.
Several other earthquake-related lawsuits are pending throughout the state.
A hearing is scheduled for Aug. 23 and 24 in a lawsuit concerning the Pawnee quake.
Refer also to: