How a Judge Scrapped Pennsylvania Families’ $4.24M Water Pollution Verdict in Gas Drilling Lawsuit
How a Judge Scrapped Pennsylvania Families’ $4.24M Water Pollution Verdict in Gas Drilling Lawsuit.
In a 58 page ruling, Magistrate Judge Martin C. Carlson discarded the jury’s verdict in Ely v. Cabot and ordered a new trial, extending the legal battle over one of the highest-profile and longest-running fracking-related water contamination cases in the country.
John-Mark Stensvaag, an environmental law professor at the University of Iowa, said that orders to re-try cases “are not as rare as one might think.” “This does not mean that the plaintiffs have no case,” he added, “it only means that, in [Judge Carlson’s] opinion, they have not presented a case justifying the jury’s verdict and should be given a second opportunity to present an adequate case.” Carter Road Water Contamination There’s little question that something is very wrong with the water on Carter Road, despite lingering questions in the legal battles centering around that contaminated water.
Indeed, on New Year’s Day 2009, one of Dimock’s contaminated drinking water wells did explode.
In 2010, the state’s Department of Environmental Protection concluded that Cabot’s drilling operations had contaminated the drinking water supplies of 19 homes in Dimock and reached an agreement with Cabot requiring the company to pay out $4.6 million over the harm to the families’ wells.
Throughout EPA’s work in Dimock, the Agency has used the best available scientific data to provide clarity to Dimock residents and address their concerns about the safety of their drinking water.” A PowerPoint presentation obtained by DeSmog and published in 2013 shows that EPA scientists had concluded there was a definitive link between the drilling in the area and water contamination.
That presentation was barred from being entered into evidence by Judge Carlson, despite the plaintiffs’ request to present it to the jury.
Evidence Catch-22 An underlying theme of the case for the plaintiffs’ attorney Lewis and her clients has centered around a struggle over the evidence the plaintiffs could present to the jury, which has come back to haunt them with the recent ruling by Judge Carlson.
Ely, the lead plaintiff at the trial, also said he was harassed by McAleer in a sworn testimony exhibited as part of the same June 2016 court filing submitted to the court by Lewis and Radow.
As a result of McAleer’s conduct, Judge Carlson ordered the jury to be placed under escort by federal marshals when they entered and left the courthouse during the remainder of the trial.