Many families in the area filed suit, however, and while most came to a settlement two families carried forward with their lawsuit and last year a jury awarded them $4.2 million. On March 31 of this year, however, a federal magistrate judge issued an order than many folks in the industry see as vindication. The judge threw out the jury’s decision out for a few reasons. First, he found it was “against the clear weight of evidence.” Most notably, the families started experiencing problems with their water wells before anyone was drilling in the area. Moreover, the lawyer for the families was way out of bounds in putting statements before the jury that were not part of the case. The experts claiming to have evidence of contamination also failed to do any testing of their own, and the judge said their testimony was perilously close to speculation.
The judge ordered both sides to discuss settlement and then a new trial if those talks fall through. So it is likely this dispute will continue to drag on, but for the most part landowners and exploration and production companies have worked collaboratively in recent years to drastically increase the amount of natural gas produced in the region. Cimmaron Land has been at the center of many amicable land deals and we are always willing to help companies secure leases in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Just call us for more information.