Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Oklahoma Supreme Court says woman can sue energy companies for 2011 earthquake injuries

The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that a Prague, Okla., (Best Places map) woman can file a lawsuit in district court against two energy companies for injuries she sustained during a 2011 earthquake, opening the door for more plaintiffs to file similar suits, Daniel Gilbert reports for The Wall Street Journal. In 2014 Oklahoma led the lower 48 states in earthquakes with 585 of magnitude 3 or higher, more than the state had in the previous 35 years combined. Scientists have linked disposal wells used in hydraulic fracturing operations to the rise in the state's earthquakes.

Sandra Ladra "sued New Dominion LLC and Spess Oil Co. last summer for injuries she sustained during a 5.6-magnitude quake that toppled her stone chimney," Gilbert writes. "The lawsuit in Lincoln County District Court contends that the companies caused the quake by injecting wastewater into nearby wells."

"The companies argued that they lawfully operated their injection wells under permits from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, the state’s oil-and-gas regulator," Gilbert writes. "A judge dismissed the lawsuit, finding that the commission had exclusive jurisdiction over the dispute. The state Supreme Court reversed the lower court’s opinion in a unanimous ruling, concluding that a dispute between private parties should be tried in court rather than be heard by the commission." (Read more)

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