No do-over for drilling nuisance case by Ellen M. Gilmer, September 15, 2014, E&E News
An oil and gas company will not get a second shot at arguing the high-profile nuisance trial that awarded $3 million to a Texas family in April. A Dallas County court last week denied Aruba Petroleum Inc.’s request for a new trial, letting stand a jury verdict that found drilling-related air emissions constituted a private nuisance for nearby homeowners. Attorneys for Aruba contended that the trial was flawed because the jury linked the company to contamination without sufficient evidence and awarded the homeowners an irregularly steep sum.
“Juries in recent cases involving lights, sounds, and odors from oil and gas production in the Barnett Shale awarded damages in the tens of thousands of dollars, not millions,” the company said in a statement.
Indeed, a jury verdict a month after the Aruba case awarded a family just $20,000 for similar complaints against Chesapeake Energy Corp. Aruba further argued that one juror had an undisclosed theft conviction, which is grounds for disqualification in Texas — “depriving Aruba of its constitutional right to a complete, qualified jury.” The court denied the motion Thursday.
Attorneys for the Texas-based company now plan to move forward with an appeal to the state’s 5th District Court of Appeals.
The case has drawn attention nationwide as oil and gas companies seek to protect themselves from similar nuisance complaints. [Emphasis added]
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