On April 22, 2014, a jury in Dallas, Texas, awarded a family $2.95 million for damages caused by hydraulic fracturing operations near their property in north Texas. The verdict was announced in Parr v. Aruba Petroleum, Inc., No. 11-1650 (Dallas Co. Ct. at Law), a lawsuit in which the landowners, Robert and Lisa Parr, claimed that the fracking operations of Aruba Petroleum, Inc. and other companies caused damage to their property, contaminated their air, and harmed their health.
The plaintiffs claimed that their health problems began in 2008 when Aruba began drilling within two miles of their home. The company drilled 20 wells in the area near their property. Lisa Parr claimed that she began to experience symptoms including nausea and blinding headaches soon after the drilling began. She also developed a rash and had open sores all over her body. Their daughter, a first grader, suffered from serious nosebleeds. The Parrs’ calves were born with birth defects, and their pets died.
In 2010, a neighbor of the Parrs began to suffer from unexplained ailments and hired a specialist to test the air. The Parrs did the same. The air sampling found BTEX – benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene – in the air samples. The plaintiffs contended that the pollution was so bad that the family was forced to flee from their home.
The Parrs’ lawsuit originally was filed against nine companies involved in the drilling operations. The other companies were either dismissed or reached settlements before trial.
The verdict is thought to be the first jury verdict in a fracking case in the country. Aruba Petroleum, Inc. has announced that it intends to file post- trial motions and that it will appeal the jury verdict.
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