A Texas jury awarded $2.9 million to the Parr family who alleged they suffered health problems because of the natural gas wells drilled in the Barnett Shale by Aruba Petroleum Inc. The Parr family alleged that the 22 wells operated by Aruba Petroleum Inc, located within a two-mile radius of their land, caused contamination through airborne materials and noise. The jury found that Aruba intentionally created a private nuisance that substantially interfered with the family’s use of its 40-acre homestead.
While Aruba thinks the jury reached the wrong conclusion and plans to file post-verdict motions and will likely appeal, this unprecedented decision sends a message to other companies drilling in the Barnett Shale that an alleged fracking nuisance claimbased on airborne materials and noise could result in huge damage awards. This differs from claims ordinarily associated with subsurface migration of hydraulic fluids and groundwater contamination.
The 2.9 million dollar verdict included $275,000 for loss of market value to the property, $2 million for past physical pain and suffering by the Parr family, $250,000 for future physical pain and suffering and $400,000 for past mental anguish. The Parr family also settled with other defendants, including two subsidiaries of ConocoPhillips Co. on April 16, 2014. Halliburton Co., as a service provider, was dismissed earlier in the case on summary judgment.
The case is Parr et al. v. Aruba Petroleum Inc., case number CC-11-01650-E, in the County Court At Law No. 5 of Dallas County, Texas.