San Antonio Court of Appeals Dismisses Landowner’s Nuisance Claim Against Two O&G Operators in Eagle Ford

In 2013, the Cernys filed suit against Marathon Oil Corporation and Marathon Oil EF, LLC (Marathon), as well as Plains Exploration & Production Company (Plains) alleging that Marathon and Plains’ negligent oilfield operations in the Eagle Ford Shale near their home in Karnes County, Texas, caused damage to the their health and property. The Cernys specifically alleged that the toxic chemicals and noxious odors emanating from the operations worsened their existing health problems, caused new health problems, and damaged their property by creating sinkholes and damaged their home’s pier and beam foundation. The Cernys sought damages for past and future medical expenses, loss of earning capacity, discomfort, repairs to the structure of their home, loss of market value of their home, and punitive damages.

Marathon and Plains filed no-evidence and traditional motions for summary judgment asserting there was no evidence, and no issue of material fact, on all the elements of the claims asserted by the Cernys. The trial granted both the no-evidence summary judgment motions and the traditional summary judgment motions filed by Marathon and Plains and rendered judgment that the Cernys take nothing. The court held that the Cernys, and their experts, failed to present sufficient evidence to establish that Marathon and/or Plains’ oil and gas operations, as opposed to something else, caused their injuries and property damage. The Cernys appealed. On October 7, 2015, the Fourth Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s judgment.

The decision will likely have implications for other nuisance claims brought against oil and gas operators. This case is Cerny v. Marathon Oil Corp., 04-14-00650-CV, 2015 WL 5852596, at *1 (Tex. App.—San Antonio Oct. 7, 2015, no. pet. h.).

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