Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

Judge Approves Three Million Dollar Verdict in Fracking Lawsuit

The Parrs says drilling near their property made them sick. A Dallas jury agreed, awarding them nearly $3 million.

Mose Buchele/StateImpact Texas

The Parrs say drilling near their property made them sick. A Dallas jury agreed, awarding them nearly $3 million.

A Texas family claiming emissions from gas drilling made them sick is one step closer to collecting a $3 million jury award against the drilling company, Aruba Petroleum.

When the Parr family of Wise County won their case, it was called the first successful “fracking lawsuit” in the county. Aruba asked Dallas County Judge Mark Greenberg to throw out the three million dollar verdict. But late Thursday Greenberg denied that motion.

The case is important because drilling companies often reach out-of-court settlements with plaintiffs. Those can include gag orders. This time there was no settlement, so the details of the Parrs’ sickness, including nosebleeds, rashes and stomach problems were made public.

The case is being closely watch by industry and groups opposed to fracking.

Tom McGarity, a law professor at UT Austin calls the judge’s ruling “a bad precedent for the industry.”

“I think there are plaintiffs’ lawyers out there right now that are looking at this case and saying this is a really opportunity here to raise claims by people who have been damaged either in their property values or health,” he says.

In a statement released after the judges ruling, Aruba petroleum said it planned to file additional post-verdict motions. If the company chooses to appeal, the process could continue for years.


  • Paul Rowe

    So I wonder if those whipping up a frenzy against fracking have thought through the consequences? What would be the effect on the one-sixth of Texas economy represented by oil & gas? What would be the effect on school funding? What would be the effect on Medicaid funding? How about food security for the poorest people? What would be the effects on air quality, energy costs, and global conflicts? They’re all related.

    Are the Parr family’s problems due to fracking, or drilling? They aren’t the same thing. The photo caption says the complaints were about drilling, and my reading of the court documents seems to agree.

    A few lines about the link to fracking would have been helpful.

  • Litigation has followed fracking and other forms of well stimulation across the country from Pennsylvania, to Texas, to California. Learn more about fracking lawsuits, and check out our site to learn up-to-date information on the impacts of fracking: http://www.cafrackfacts.org/policy/litigation/

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