Texas plaintiffs win $3 million for fracking damages

Texas-based Aruba Petroleum Inc. will have to pay nearly $3 million to a family for the harm that Aruba’s hydraulic fracturing — or fracking — operations caused, after what the plaintiffs’ attorneys are calling the first trial regarding fracking damages in the United States.

Attorneys for Bob and Lisa Parr said that the fracking operations in Dallas County, Texas, “fouled the family’s 40-acre ranch property, their home and quality of life, sickened them and their pets and livestock,” law firm Matthews & Associates said in a Wednesday blog post following the previous day’s decision.

The jury verdict includes $2 million for physical pain and suffering, plus money for property and market value loss, future pain and suffering and mental anguish, the firm said. The plaintiffs said emissions and discharges from the operations, including hazardous gases, chemicals and wastes, caused damage starting in 2008.

“I’m really proud of the family that went through what they went through and said, ‘I’m not going to take it anymore,’ ” attorney David Matthews said in the post.

Aruba disagreed with the jury’s decision. 

“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. “We presented thorough and expert testimony from recognized toxicologists and medical professionals, as well as local real estate professionals, to help the jury make an informed decision.”

Fracking involves pumping water, sand and chemicals into the ground at high pressure to break rock formations and release oil and natural gas. The Parrs’ case was not the first lawsuit regarding fracking damages, but lawsuits frequently are settled out of court, the attorneys said.