Archives: Litigation

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Environmental Groups Ramp-up the Crude-by-Rail Fight in the Courtroom

Bakken crude producers and midstream transportation companies already experience transportation woes related to inadequate pipeline infrastructure, railroad capacity, tank car supply, rail accidents, and new regulations. But they also increasingly face a new problem: lawsuits. In September alone, the Sierra Club, one of the largest environmental organizations in the United States, filed two lawsuits challenging … Continue Reading

Texas Jury Awards Damages for Fracking Nuisance Claim for the Second Time

Last Friday, a Texas jury awarded a Tarrant County couple $20,000 in damages after finding activities at a natural gas drilling site located 165 feet from their property constituted a temporary private nuisance.  The verdict comes less than a month after a Dallas County jury awarded $2.9 million in damages to plaintiffs for a private … Continue Reading

Texas Family Awarded $2.9 Million in Damages from Fracking Nuisance Claims

On April 22, 2014, a Dallas County, Texas jury awarded a family $2.9 million dollars for personal injury and property damages arising out of their suit against Aruba Petroleum, Inc. The jury’s verdict includes damage awards of $2.25 million for past and future physical pain and suffering, $400,000 in mental anguish, and $275,000 in property … Continue Reading

Colorado Supreme Court Grants Petition to Consider Use of Lone Pine Orders in Toxic Tort Case Involving Hydraulic Fracturing

On Monday, the Colorado Supreme Court granted a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in Antero Resources, et al. v. Strudley, et al.  The Strudley case involves claims relating to alleged injuries from natural gas drilling operations near the Strudley’s home in Silt, Colorado.  The Strudley’s case was dismissed by the district court after it entered … Continue Reading

Wyoming Supreme Court Remands Fracking Chemical Disclosure Case to District Court for Reconsideration

On March 12, 2014, the Wyoming Supreme Court issued a highly anticipated ruling in a case concerning the scope of trade secret protection available to exempt certain fracking chemical information—which Wyoming requires to be provided to the Wyoming  Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (Commission)—from public disclosure.  The decision, however, rested largely on technicalities and declined … Continue Reading

Oral Argument Recap: Ohio Supreme Court Considers Home Rule in Challenge to Zoning Ordinances Restricting Drilling

On Wednesday, the Ohio Supreme Court held oral argument to determine the scope of Ohio’s constitutional guarantee of municipal “home rule.”  The case—brought by the city of Munroe Falls, Ohio against Beck Energy Corp. for violations of its local zoning laws—concerns the constitutionality of Ohio Revised Code § 1509.02, which grants the Ohio Department of … Continue Reading

New York Landowners Sue Governor Cuomo Over Fracking Review

A large group of New York property owners have filed suit against Governor Andrew Cuomo, demanding that the state concludes its five-year-long assessment of whether to allow high-volume hydraulic fracturing.  The group, called the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York (“JLCNY”), alleges the state has unjustifiably delayed the review process, making it impossible for the … Continue Reading

Colorado Activist Group Opposed to Hydraulic Fracturing Proposes Ballot Initiative To Give Municipalities Broad Regulatory Authority At Expense of State Power

Co-Author:  Paul Enockson Last week, the Colorado Community Rights Network, an activist group that opposes hydraulic fracturing, filed a proposed ballot initiative to amend the Colorado Constitution to give municipalities extraordinarily broad authority to regulate for-profit businesses operating within their jurisdiction.  The proposal grew out of anti-fracking activists’ frustration with current state law, which prohibits … Continue Reading

Pennsylvania Governor Asks Supreme Court to Reconsider Decision Striking Down Act 13

Governor Tom Corbett is asking the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to reconsider its December 19, 2013 decision striking down key provisions of Act 13—a bill aimed at regulation of drilling activity in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale deposit. As we wrote here last week, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down the 2012 law by a 4-3 vote, with … Continue Reading

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Strikes Down Act 13

Last week, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down a state law that required municipalities to permit oil and gas drilling in all zoning districts, including those designated exclusively for residential use.  In a 4 to 2 decision, the court determined that Act 13, which prohibited cities and towns from banning fracking projects within their borders, … Continue Reading

Litigation Over Hydraulic Fracturing in New York Rolls On, As Arguments Are Made To High Court The Same Week A New Lawsuit Emerges At The Trial Court Level

On December 16, 2013, the Town of Dryden, New York filed its merits brief with the New York Court of Appeals, arguing that state law does not preempt the Town’s local zoning ordinance purporting to ban hydraulic fracturing.  To date, less than 1% of the state’s towns and cities have enacted similar zoning laws, but … Continue Reading

Colorado Oil and Gas Association Files Suit Against Fracking Bans

On December 3, 2013, the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (“COGA”) filed suits challenging citizen-passed initiatives that ban oil and gas activities in the cities of Fort Collins and Lafayette.  The ordinance passed by the citizens of Fort Collins placed a ban on hydraulic fracturing and the storage of any associated waste in the City … Continue Reading

Texas Supreme Court Set to Hear Case Involving Subsurface Trespass Claim

Last week, the Texas Supreme Court agreed to hear a suit that could determine whether landowners in the state have a cause of action for trespass when water from underground injection wells migrates onto their property.  The Court’s decision in Environmental Processing Systems LC v. FPL Farming Ltd. No. 12-0905 could prompt oil and gas … Continue Reading

New York Landowners Threaten State with Takings Claims over Drilling Moratorium

In a draft complaint circulated to its members this week, the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York—a group of pro-drilling landowners—laid out several claims against state agencies and Governor Andrew Cuomo as a result of delays in issuing a final decision on the use of hydraulic fracturing in New York following a 2008 moratorium. After … Continue Reading

6th Circuit Backs Chesapeake In Ohio Gas Lease Fight

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week that Ohio landowners do not have a contractual right to terminate their oil and gas leases with Chesapeake Exploration LLC based on Chesapeake’s failure to match third-party offers to lease the same property. Affirming the district court’s ruling, the appeals panel held that the leases unambiguously … Continue Reading

Local Fracking Bans Tested In Court While New York State Remains Undecided

After five years of “health impact analysis” on the effects of fracking, the New York State Department of Health (“NYSDOH”) has still offered no timeline for completion of the study.  The NYSDOH study was commissioned by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, an agency controlled by Governor Andrew Cuomo. The NYSDOH issued a … Continue Reading

Federal Court Holds that an Eastern Ohio Oil and Gas Lease Expired before Drilling in a Potentially Costly Ruling

In a recent case, Cameron v. Hess Corporation, Case No. 2:12-CV-00168 (September 24, 2013),  the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio  held that an eastern Ohio oil and gas lease entered into by Hess Ohio Resources, LLC (“Hess”), a Hess Corporation affiliate, expired before Hess commenced drilling, exemplifying the importance of carefully drafting … Continue Reading

New Study Posits Correlation between Extraction/Injection Wells and Seismic Events in Eagle Ford Shale

A new study assesses potential correlations between small-magnitude seismic events with fluid extraction and injection in the area of the Eagle Ford Shale of south-central Texas.  The article –titled Two-year survey of earthquakes and injection/production wells in the Eagle Ford Shale, Texas, prior to the MW4.8 20 October 2011 earthquake – was published online this … Continue Reading

Congressman Polis Dismisses Lawsuit That Attempted To Stop Fracking Of A Weld County, Colorado Well

On July 22, 2013, Congressman Jared Polis filed suit in Denver County District Court against Sundance Energy, Inc.  In his lawsuit, Polis sought to obtain a restraining order that would prevent Sundance from further operations until further order of the Court. The well is located in Weld County, Colorado.  According to the complaint filed by … Continue Reading

Colorado Court of Appeals Revives Fracking Case – Holds “Lone Pine” Order Not Allowed In Colorado

            On July 3, 2013, the Colorado Court of Appeals held that the plaintiffs in a toxic tort case cannot be required to present prima facie evidence to support their claims prior to the initiation of full discovery.  In Strudley v. Antero Resources Corp., the Colorado Court of Appeals reversed a state district court opinion … Continue Reading

New York Court Upholds Local Hydraulic Fracturing and Oil and Gas Development Bans

Last Friday, a four judge panel of a New York appeals court upheld two local zoning laws that prohibit activities related to oil and gas exploration and development, including hydraulic fracturing.  The decisions in Norse Energy Corp. USA v. Town of Dryden and Cooperstown Holstein Corp. v. Town of Middlefield mark the first appellate ruling … Continue Reading

Texas Court Allows Defamation Claim Against Landowner to Proceed

On Monday, Texas’s Second District Court of Appeals partially affirmed a District Court order allowing Range Resources Corporation’s (“Range”) defamation and business disparagement claims against a landowner to proceed.  A copy of the court’s opinion is available here. This is the latest development in a case that gained notoriety when a video purporting to show … Continue Reading

Ohio Court: State Oil And Gas Law Pre-Empts Local Drilling Regulations

The nationwide oil and gas boom has exposed a rift in the relationship between state and local governments seeking to regulate shale drilling and development.  This tension has been playing out in several key shale states – for example, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will soon issue its opinion in the Robinson Township case, which will … Continue Reading

Ohio Supreme Court: Oil and Gas Commission Cannot Review DNR Permit Decisions

Yesterday the Ohio Supreme Court, in a 5-2 decision, ruled that the state’s Oil and Gas Commission lacks jurisdiction to hear appeals of drilling permits issued by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (DNR).  The Oil & Gas Commission is a five-member advisory council that hears appeals from persons claiming to be aggrieved or adversely … Continue Reading