Continental Resources loses salt water well case in North Dakota



Oklahoma City’s Continental Resources company recently lost an appeals court case in North Dakota after being sued over a horizontal wastewater disposal well.

As Justia US Law reported, the case involves Continental Resources, Inc., an Oklahoma oil and gas company, and Rick and Rosella Fisher, who own a farm in North Dakota. Continental drilled a horizontal disposal well on the Fishers’ property to inject saltwater waste into the pore space of a rock formation known as the Lodgepole.

The Fishers sued Continental, claiming that the company had no right to drill the well. The district court ruled that Continental had the right to proceed with drilling and using the well as long as the use was reasonable, but the Fishers were entitled to compensation for any proven damage to their pore space.

The district court denied Continental’s motion for judgment as a matter of law and the jury awarded the Fishers $22,440.25. Continental then renewed its motion for judgment as a matter of law and, in the alternative, moved for a new trial. The Fishers moved for an award of attorneys’ fees and costs. The district court denied Continental’s motion and awarded the Fishers $249,243.60 in attorneys’ fees and $87,639.89 in costs.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision. The court found that there was sufficient evidence to support the jury’s verdict. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in admitting the third-party contracts and Rick Fisher’s testimony. Finally, the court affirmed the district court’s award of attorneys’ fees and costs to the Fishers.