Appeals Court rules in Prague earthquake lawsuit

An Oklahoma oil and gas company sued over the 2011 earthquake that left homes damaged in Prague lost its case Friday with the State Court of Appeals.

The high court upheld a Lincoln County judge’s ruling to certify a class-action lawsuit that included residents of Lincoln, Payne, Logan, Oklahoma, Cleveland, Pottawatomie, Seminole, Okfuskee and Creek counties.

A lawsuit was filed against New Dominion Energy in Oklahoma City and other firms after an earthquake with a magnitude 5.7 struck Prague and the region in November 2011.

In a 3-0 decision, the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals panel agreed with the Lincoln County District Court’s ruling 16 months ago to certify the lawsuit as a class in a nine-county region, according to the Tulsa World.

New Dominion’s overarching argument, as summarized by the panel, is there are too many individualized determinations to be made in the case to justify class treatment.

“In its order, the trial court noted that ‘there is no ‘one, easy fix’ for this type of litigation. Both alternatives are complex, unique and difficult to manage,’” the panel wrote. “However, because the more expert-intensive issue is common to the class, this factor weights heavily in favor of class certification.” 

The panel also highlighted that the trial court determined class certification would eliminate the “expert-intensive” barrier for hundreds or thousands of plaintiffs weighing litigation, as well as unnecessary duplication of the exchange of evidence already conducted in the case.

“New Dominion also argues that the difficulties in managing a class action suit such as this one will be overwhelming due to the necessity of potentially hundreds of ‘mini trials’ regarding the issues of causation of specific damage and the quantum of damage,” the panel wrote. “However, as argued by Plaintiff, New Dominion fails to provide support for why the alternative — potentially hundreds of thousands of ‘full blown trials’ — would be superior.”

Spess Oil Co., Equal Energy US Inc., and Fairfield Oil & Gas Corp. settled the lawsuit in November for $925,000.

Source:  Tulsa World

 

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