Two Pennsylvania families have settled a lawsuit against a major natural gas producer, ending an almost decade-long fight over alleged water contamination in the northeast Pennsylvania town of Dimock.
The families were among 15 who sued Cabot Oil & Gas in 2009, claiming that fracking for natural gas had contaminated their drinking water wells in the area, known as a “sweet spot” of the Marcellus Shale for its rich gas reserves. All but two of the families previously settled.
The two remaining families went to trial and won a jury award of $4.24 million in March 2016. The jury determined that Cabot had been negligent.
The verdict was hailed as a major victory for critics of the gas industry, but it was overturned in March this year by the trial judge who said the award bore little or no relation to the evidence presented. He ordered a new trial, but also told the parties to first seek a settlement.
The plaintiffs in the new settlement, which was reached on Sept. 21, are Nolen Scott Ely, Monica Marta-Ely and their three minor children, and Ray Hubert, Victoria Hubert and their adult daughter, Hope Hubert.
Leslie Lewis, attorney for the families, declined to provide details of the settlement and said her clients were not willing to comment, but said were they happy with the award.
“The settlement is final,” Lewis wrote in an email. “After nearly a decade, the plaintiffs are happy and relieved to have these past litigated matters behind them.”