A Texas ranching family was awarded nearly $3 million in a lawsuit against Aruba Petroleum, a company running a fracking operation near their 40-acre ranch in Decatur, 60 miles northwest of Dallas. Serious health problems began to arise in late 2008.
In a landmark legal victory regarding fracking, a middle-class north Texas ranching family won nearly $3 million from a big, natural gas company whose drilling allegedly caused years of sickness, caused the death of pets and livestock and forced them out of their home for many months.
At first, Lisa Parr dismissed her migraine headaches, nausea and dizziness as the flu, but when her symptoms persistently worsened, she knew something more serious was going on.
“By 2009, I was having a multitude of problems,” Lisa Parr told CNN. “My nervous system was messed up. I couldn’t hear, and my vision was messed up. My entire body would shake inside. I was vomiting white foam in the mornings.”
In 2009, Lisa’s husband, Robert, and their 11-year-old daughter, Emma, also became ill, suffering many symptoms. “They had nosebleeds, vision problems, nausea, rashes, blood pressure issues. Being that the wells were not on our property, we had no idea that what they were doing on the property around us was affecting us,” she said.
The two-week trial ended Tuesday, which happened to be ‘Earth Day.’ The $2.95 million civil verdict by a six-person Dallas jury is believed to be the first of its kind in the country. Other landowners have previously sued over drilling and reached settlements, but legal experts think this is the first jury verdict. The verdict was awarded to the Parr family for personal injury and property damages.
Robert and Lisa Parr filed suit against Aruba Petroleum Inc. in 2011, alleging that its operations near their property had contaminated the air and caused harm to their health. Critics and supporters of hydraulic fracturing (or fracking for short), which involves pumping large amounts of water mixed with sand and chemicals into a shale or rock formation to unlock trapped oil and gas, have been watching their lawsuit closely.
“I am just overwhelmed,” Lisa Parr said in a telephone interview Wednesday. “I feel like I am just this little bitty girl, this little family who just beat the biggest, most powerful industry in the world.”
Aruba Petroleum, based in Plano, Texas, said it had done nothing wrong and had operated within safe and legal guidelines. “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,” Aruba said in a statement.
According to the lawsuit, Aruba Petroleum had 22 natural gas wells within a 2-mile radius of the Parr’s property, with three wells in close proximity to their Texas home. The closest was 791 feet away.
The company said it would appeal.
For more information, feel free to contact one of our Gacovino Lake attorneys at 1-800-246-HURT (4878).