Federal Judge dismisses class action earthquake lawsuit filed by northern Oklahoma residents

A class-action lawsuit filed last year against seven Oklahoma energy companies blaming them for earthquakes in northern Oklahoma has been dismissed by an Oklahoma City federal judge.

U.S. District Judge Stephen P. Friot issued his ruling earlier this month in the 2017 lawsuit filed by Matt and Sheryl Meier of Garber and Kai Bach of Carrier. They originally filed suit in Payne County District Court but later moved it to Oklahoma City federal court and made it a class-action suit.

The companies named in the suit (CIV 17-703F) were Chesapeake Operating LLC, Devon Energy Producgtion Company, LLP, Midstates Petroleum Company LLC, New Dominion, LLC, Range Production Company LLC, Special Energy Corporation and White Star Petroleum LLC.

In his 22-page ruling on Aug. 13, Judge Friot ruled that the three plaintiffs had not suffered earthquake damage.

“Here, the risk of earthquake damage, though present like most any other kind of risk, has not materialized: plaintiffs have suffered no damage to their homes or their persons.”

The three plaintiffs contended they were “forced” to purchase earthquake insurance or pay higher rates. But the judge pointed out that the Oklahoma Supreme Court has previously held that economic duress is not an independent tort under Oklahoma law.

He granted motions to the defendants to dismiss the lawsuit and the class action petition.

The Meiers and Bach filed notice last week they were appealing the ruling before the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, Colorado.