A Texas Appeals Court ruling last week that reversed a $3 million dollar harmful-emissions verdict against a Texas driller might have environmentalists and the oil and gas industry wondering about the impact of lawsuits.
The Dallas-based 5th District court of Appeals sided with Aruba Petroleum Inc. which was sued by a family that claimed it was affected by air emissions from nearby oil and gas operations. A jury in 2014 awarded $3 million to the family.
The jury made the judgment in favor of Bob and Lisa Parr who lived over the Barnett Shale. They sued over health problems they blamed on air pollution from well sites close to their home. The jury concluded the drilling-related emissions disturbed their property and resulted in a private nuisance.
The judgment initially had the oil and gas industry wondering if it was a sign of legal things to come. But Aruba challenged and argued the jury was wrong in linking the company to contamination and the judgment for the Parrs was unusually high.
A three-judge appeals court panel agreed.
“None of the evidence cited by the Parrs of the noise, light, odors and other claimed effects of Arbua’s operations established that Aruba actually intended or desired to create an interference on the Parrs’ land that they claim was a nuisance or actually knew or believed that an interference would result.”