theories such as strict liability, negligence, private nuisance, physical trespass–usually based upon allegations that
contaminated materials generated by
fracking have infiltrated plaintiff’s property–medical monitoring, emotional distress, “inconvenience and discomfort,”
and negligence per se. Various theories
of damage have been presented, including: bodily injury, diminution in property
values, breach of quiet enjoyment, loss of
business, increased risk of disease, and
Besides claims for monetary damages–
including punitive damages and attorneys’
fees–plaintiffs frequently seek injunctions
to stop drilling activity and to mandate remediation of alleged contamination.
Putative Class Action,
While many of the lawsuits filed by
purportedly injured property owners
and residents have been individual in
nature, a significant number of these
suits have been presented as putative
Fracking and Environmental Liability
a 21st century gold rush—the boom of natural gas—has washed across the u. S. As a result, the practice of
fracking is a booming business. In addition, it has become one of the most controversial environmental issues to
date. As this industry has grown, so too have investigations about perceived risks and liabilities. Litigation has
ensued. Here are some hot trends in fracking litigation insurers need to be mindful about:
E Contamination. Last year, the Texas Railroad Commission (TRRC) voted unanimously to finalize a prior order
finding Range Resources not responsible for the contamination of private drinking wells near two of its fracking
operations. After reviewing evidence, TRRC found that the contamination was the result of natural causes and
unrelated to Range’s fracking operations.
In a current case Baker, et al. v. Anschutz Exploration Corporation, et al, plaintiffs allege that their residential
drinking water wells became contaminated as a result of drilling activities by the defendant. They also claim that
their properties and families became exposed to combustible gases, toxic sediments, and hazardous chemicals.
Many issues will need to be considered in this case, according to the blog Fracking Insider. Issues include
whether the wells were properly drilled, as well as whether the nature of the underlying rock formations permits
the migration of underground gas.
E earthquakes. According to some experts, earthquakes aren’t necessarily caused during the fracking process,
but rather, caused by the need to dispose of millions of gallons of contaminated fluid extracted from each drilling
site. This fluid is either to be recycled or taken to a separate location to be pumped deep underground. The
pressure created when water is pushed far below the surface for a long period has been linked to an increase
in seismic activity. As water enters fissures and lubricates fault lines. earthquakes can result even in places
otherwise free of tremors.
Some researchers say, however, that a link has not been solidly proven.
Sources: Texas Bar Journal, Reuters
class actions. At least 10 such actions
have been filed in recent years, particu-
larly in the state of Arkansas. Typically
plaintiffs and putative class members
in these actions are residents of an area
adjacent to or near a fracking site. These