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$3 Million Verdict in Texas Fracking Case

DALLAS — Plaintiffs Bob and Lisa Parr won dont-frack-with-our-watera $3 million jury award in the first fracking verdict in Texas April 22. The Parrs sued Aruba Petroleum in 2011 for fracking operations which fouled the family’s 40-acre ranch property, their home and quality of life, sickened them and their pets and livestock. (See the Parr – 11th Amended Petition.)

The verdict included $275,000 for the Parr’s property loss of market value and $2 million for past physical pain and suffering by Bob and Lisa Parr and their daughter,  $250,000 for future physical pain and suffering, $400,000 for past mental anguish.

“They’re vindicated,” said Mr. Matthews. “I’m really proud of the family that went through what they went through and said, ‘I’m not going to take it anymore.’ It takes guts to say, ‘I’m going to stand here and protect my family from an invasion of our right to enjoy our property.’ It’s not easy to go through a lawsuit and have your personal life uncovered and exposed to the extent this family went through.”

“The jury has shown again that, more often than not, juries get it right,” said Mr. Capshaw.

Aruba argued that it had fracking glasscomplied with air quality and drilling safety guidelines set by the Texas Railroad Commission and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TDECQ). Aruba told jurors the Parrs can’t prove it was one of Aruba’s wells that caused them to get sick because the gas wells it drilled, eight within a mile of the Parr land and 14 within two miles, are all over a landscape which features several dozens of other drilling rig operations.

Aruba Petroleum was represented by Dallas attorneys Ben Barron and Michael Mazzone.

The case is Parr et al. v. Aruba Petroleum Inc., case number CC-11-01650-E, in the County Court at Law No. 5 of Dallas County, Texas.

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Matthews & Associates is investigating other claims of people injured by fracking operations. Contact us for a free legal consultation.

Fracking Acrostic

by Ken Jones

Fertile farms poisoned by its chemical swill
Ranch land ruined as the cattle fall ill
Against these Mother Earth despoilers stands
Cases won by The Matthews’ Firm Hand.
Kiss our air goodbye to its hydrogen sulfide
Into the ground flows the methane-no place to hide
Now these first verdicts can open debate
Give us hope the rape can stop before it’s too late

Resources & Related Stories

Parr – 11th Amended Petition

Law 360 Story

The Harbinger: Green Politics & Action

Earthworksaction: The Dark Side of the Boom

Fracking accelerates Global Warming  – Frackademia

Gasland: The Movie

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$3 Million Verdict in Texas Fracking Case

11 Comments

  • Suzie Kidder says:

    Bravo:

    Sometimes it takes just one critical win to crack open a door, after which the wind picks up and blows out every door, window, etc. in that whole house of cards … and then suddenly the very roof lifts off … and it becomes obvious to any observer that it was always rotten to the core.

    It takes just a handful of brave, principled people who are willing to stand firm and do what it takes to create a tipping point. A Texas sized hat’s off to the Parrs.

    May they move on to a fabulous next chapter to their lives, heal, and prosper.

    Suzie

    • Lee says:

      Right on, Suzie. For all the talk about cheap energy from fracking natural gas, has one person’s heating bill gone down anywhere in the country? The only ones getting rich from fracking are a handful of company owners. Everybody else is just getting sick if they live close like the Parrs or their houses are shaken by earthquakes as in Ohio and elsewhere where they’ve never had quakes before, and the whole fracking mess is a big contributor to global warming while it wrecks potable water that is now more valuable than oil.

      Fracking is a horror to living things everywhere.

      • Doc_Anchovy says:

        “Greed, of all kinds, are a horror to living things everywhere.” Yea, that sounds about right.

      • two crows says:

        The proponents of natural gas also claim that it is ‘cleaner’ than coal or oil. And that’s true IF you’re talking only about burning the end product.

        It used to be that mining natural gas was simply a byproduct of drilling for oil. It was preserved in the same beds as the oil and came up all mixed in with it. They simply separated the two and marketed them separately. And yes, gas burned cleaner than oil or coal.

        But then the greed kicked in. People discovered that there was lots more gas locked up in the shale and the race was on to exploit it and befoul the earth as quickly as possible. The last one owning an acre of unpolluted land was a fool. And a poor fool, at that.

        So now science has spoken. If we are to have a living planet at the end of the century, we must agree to leave 80% [that's EIGHTY PERCENT - - FOUR FIFTHS] of the fossil fuel still in the ground IN the ground. At today’s prices that’s approximately TEN TRILLION dollars worth of oil and gas and coal that the moguls voluntarily leave lying there not generating profits.

        Chris Hayes put it very well last night: the last time we did anything of the sort was when we freed the slaves. They were considered property at the time and they were “a very valuable commodity” that an entire economy was based upon.
        How did we manage to do such a thing? Oh, that’s right. A very bloody war that pitted father against son and brother against brother. I remember now – - – -
        Here’s the article by Chris: http://www.thenation.com/article/179461/new-abolitionism#

  • Gordon says:

    Yes, congrats to the Parrs and their lawyers. Nothing scares me more than fracking…an irretrievable damage done to the land and water and people. It must be stopped everywhere. I wish the award amount was a lot more…these villians have so much money that I am wondering if the $3 M will be any kind of deterrent. The case of fracking needs to be exposed for what it is. Iam not optimistic though in a country where democracy and government protection of a citizen’s rights has degenerated into a plutocracy…polluted by money of the special interests….Citizen’s United decision by the Supreme Court being the penultimate example. I hope you get the money eventually. Washington cannot fix itself …we need to get angry enough to change it ourselves.

  • Larry Buiting says:

    It is unfortunate that this has occurred and all efforts should be made to NOT USE CHEMICALS in fracking/drilling.
    But WE DO NEED to drill here– many of the people screaming no are the same people screaming, as they should about wars fought over oil, can’t have it both ways!! I say re- work it make it safe drilling & don’t scream about the very few who have methane in their faucets as this is a NATURAL seepage from rock containing natural gas. I have in my real estate days listed 5 farms with NO FRACKING anywheres around it that had methane coming out faucets, it happens naturally as rocks shift and gas finds the cracks and opening.
    Our business is dead in the recession (it is for many!)and the money (not a dirty word) would enhance our lives tremendously and this country would benefit as would the lives saved by no wars being fought for oil. We can do it safe and ALL effort should go there!

    • Sherri says:

      The by product of fracking, toxic chemicals that are used, is polluting and it will only contribute to more toxic waste. What to do with all that toxic chemical waste. It puts our ground water at risk and what is more essential to life and environment than clean water? What is our most precious resource that all living things depend on?

  • Dan Hull says:

    Nicely done, David Matthews. Congratulations to you and the Parrs. And thanks for making a copy of your clients’ petition available.

    Question: So your jurors could find–and did find–in its 5-1 verdict that Aruba “intentionally created a private nuisance”. Always hard to tell what juries are thinking–but did this one also believe/find Aruba complied with TDECQ guidelines? Was there a special interrogatory or something similar on this? Am curious. Any light you can shed on this would be appreciated.

    Thanks.

  • Lisa Bracken says:

    It has taken a long while to elevate public knowledge of fracking risks – particularly in light of myriad protections and exemptions enjoyed by the oil and gas industry.

    Bringing dark truths to light under such circumstances has been a very difficult challenge for everyone working to evolve this industy’s practices. As long as operational non-disclosure and political favoritism exist, that task is by no means complete.

    Thanks to this case, and all those involved – inlcuding the defense and every one of their best (and worst) arguments – the vacuous gap of structured and preserved ignorance that has so long underwritten this industry’s unjust activites is finding sound abridgment.

    While this verdict and its associated award are likely to be challenged, in my view, this case’s lasting and greatest victory will always lie in having critically advanced the full scope of industrial impact toward full disclosure and liability shepherded by this family’s persistence, this firm’s skill and this jury’s insight.

    This is a true victory for justice and represents the beginning of accountability for an industry which has long and unjustly benefited from its harmful practices.

    Until we reach a point of truly equitable social, environmental and legal function, this will continue to be the highest value implied through the successful argument of any future similar case.

  • […] sont négociés au cas par cas sans jamais atteindre les tribunaux, cette affaire constitue le premier verdict sur la fracturation hydraulique aux États-Unis. Elle pourrait ouvrir la voie à de multiples class […]

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