A Texas family was awarded nearly three million dollars for damages to their health caused by a fracking operation near their home. The precedent-setting verdict against a fracking company is a massive win for fracking opponents and is the first fracking-related lawsuit award given by jury. The jury announced their decision in the fracking lawsuit, coincidentally, on Earth Day. This has been a rough month for public relations in the hydraulic fracturing industry. Earlier this month, geologists directly linked earthquakes in Ohio to the process of fracking shale for natural gas.
Lisa Parr told CNN, "One night, our whole house was vibrating and shaking. We lease that property for our cattle and so I went over there to make sure our cattle wasn't around there, and when I went over there my nose and throat started burning." Lisa knew that the fracking operation next door to her family's ranch was toxic that night in 2010.
Not long after that night, Lisa Parr started breaking out in rashes. Her body is now scarred from pockmarks. Lisa had four lumps the size of ping pong balls on her neck. "My doctor, an internal specialist, found 20 chemicals in my body and he said, 'Lisa you must move immediately. You will spend more time and money on hospitals, chemotherapy, and a mortician... and you need to get an environmental health doctor immediately,'" Lisa said.
Lisa's husband, Bob, and their daughter, Emma, both also developed nose bleeds from the fracking operation. Mr. Parr was getting three nose bleeds each week, when he previously had had no more than 3-5 nose bleeds in his entire life. He and his daughter would often get nose bleeds simultaneously. Mr. Parr also suffered from balance problems and neurological issues attributed to fracking in the lawsuit. Emma developed asthma. The Parr's doctor finally told them their health was suffering so badly, they needed to leave their home within 48 hours. When the family moved temporarily to Bobb Parr's office, their health began to improve.
The family originally asked for 66 million dollars in damages from nine companies that were originally believed to be involved in fracking shale for gas in their neighborhood. According to CNN, some of the energy companies were initially dismissed from the case. Other companies offered settlements and according to the attorney, the identities of these companies can not be disclosed to the public. During the investigation though, substantial evidence was found issuing blame for the Texas family's health issues on Aruba Petroleum, according to Star Telegram. Plaintiffs Bob and Lisa Parr then sought more than nine million in their lawsuit against Aruba. The family's lawyer told CNN, "Because of their courage and determination for justice, the Parrs have successfully held Aruba Petroleum Inc. accountable for their careless and reckless behavior."
Ben Barron represented the fracking company in the lawsuit, "It was arbitrary," he said of the jury's decision. "How do you determine which well caused what, if any, damages?"
Aruba Petroleum denies that fracking had anything to do with the Texas family's illnesses and may appeal. The gas company argued that it met state regulatory standard and that there was no evidence that fracking harmed the family in any way. In a public statement, the fracking company stated, "We contended the plaintiffs were neither harmed by the presence of our drilling operations nor was the value of their property diminished because of our natural gas development. We presented thorough and expert testimony from recognized toxicologists and medical professionals, as well as local real estate professionals, to help the jury make an informed decision."
According toTexas Sharon though, the Parr family weren't the only ones injured from the fracking operation that caused the Parr family to abandon their home. The Strudley family, among others, also suffered ailments which included, nose bleeds, rashes and blackouts. The Strudley family physician, Dr. Joseph Wezensky told Beth Strudley, "Get out of that house, now!"
This anti-fracking lawsuit, decided in favor of the plaintiffs by a jury, opens the door to future lawsuits against fracking companies. Do you or anyone you know have just cause to file a lawsuit for fracking-related health issues?