An eight-member federal jury found Cabot Oil and Gas negligent and ordered the driller to pay a total of $4.24 million to two Dimock families for polluting their well water. The company says it will appeal the decision.
Only two families out of the original 44 plaintiffs in the case against Cabot Oil and Gas went to trial after years of delays, lack of representation and legal setbacks. Lead plaintiff Scott Ely worked for the driller before becoming a whistleblower.
“I saw so much on these job sites,” he said after the verdict. “I’m not only working for them. I’m also a resident, and as I’m working for them, I end up becoming a victim of it.”
Ely testified that even today, his water is still brown and muddy. He says he persisted with the case even when his original attorneys dropped out and he had to represent himself. The other plaintiffs settled with the company and signed nondisclosure agreements that prevent them from speaking about their water issues. Ely says he always wanted his day in court.
“This is America and we’re supposed to stand up for ourselves,” he said. “There are a lot of neighbors who couldn’t be here. It’s like [I’m] sharing their voices, the ones who couldn’t get into the courtroom. [The jury] is vindicating them.”
This story comes from our content partner StateImpact Pennsylvania, a collaboration between WITF and WHYY covering the fiscal and environmental impact of Pennsylvania’s booming energy economy.