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Range Resource's Natural Gas Drilling Ruined Texas Dream Home, Lawsuit Claims

Jun 24, 2011 | Parker Waichman LLP

A Texas couple claims natural gas drilling contaminated their water well and ruined their $4.5 million dream home. Steven and Shyla Lipsky of Parker County claim that Range Resources, which is performing hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, near their home, allowed methane and other toxic chemicals to migrate to their well.

According to their lawsuit, the Lipskys began purchasing lots in their development in 2001.  At the time, they were assured by the developer, Silverado on the Brazos Development Company #1 LTD, that no natural gas drilling would be allowed in or near the development.  In 2004, the couple began building their home on a 7.5 million parcel, and moved into the home in 2009.

In 2010, the Lipskys claim they discovered that their well was contaminated with benzene, toluene, ethane, and methane.  The Lipsky's allege that the well, which was begun in 2005, had not contained methane prior to 2010.   The excessive amount of methane made their water flammable and unusable, forcing the Lipskys to incur significant costs to have water shipped in.   That same year, they learned from the Texas Railroad Commission that Range Resources had started drilling for gas in August 2009 in their development. 

According to the Lipsky's lawsuit, this drilling violates the covenants of their development, and their home has been significantly devalued since the contamination was discovered.  In addition to Range Resources, the complaint names Silverado on the Brazos Development Company #1 LTD as a defendant.

In December 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued an enforcement order against Range Resources after finding its drilling had cause methane contamination of nearby water wells, including the plaintiffs.  According to a report on Newsinferno.com, Range denies the EPA's allegations and is fighting the agency in court.

According to the Lipsky's lawsuit, an attorney for Range Resources has accused the couple of using the presence of the gas to get their taxable home value reduced significantly.  The lawyer made the allegation on April 7, 2011 during a continuing legal education seminar in Fort Worth, Texas titled, "The Rest of the Story - The EPA Order Against Range Resources."  According to the lawsuit, this attorney mentioned Steven Lipsky by name, and claimed he "hooked a green hose to the vent so he could close the valve to allow gas to accumulate so that when he wants to light it and make 'these little videos for the people out there."

The Lipskys maintain in their lawsuit that these, and several other allegations made by representatives of Range Resource regarding the nature of their water well contamination,  are completely untrue.


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