Last month, a Dallas County, Texas, jury awarded $2.9 million to a family for personal injury and property damages arising out of a lawsuit against Aruba Petroleum, Inc. for hydraulic fracturing (fracking) operations near the Parr family’s property.
The award consists of $2.25 million for physical pain and suffering, $400,000 in mental anguish, and $275,000 in property damages for loss of the market value of their property. The award compensates the Parr family – husband, wife and daughter – for illnesses they allegedly suffered as a result of exposure to benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene, and other compounds used by Aruba in fracking operations on properties adjoining the Parrs’ ranch, which is located on top of the Barnett Shale in North Texas, Mondaq.com reports. The Parrs alleged that 22 Aruba wells within a two-mile radius of their land exposed them to hazardous gases, chemicals, and industrial waste that made them sick and unable to safely live in their home.
The jury was instructed only about the claim for private nuisance, not about two other claims against Aruba for negligence and trespass, according to Mondaq. Aruba plans to file post-verdict motions and appeal any final judgment in the case, focusing on the difficulty of proving that one of its wells caused the alleged damages. Aruba says its wells make up just a small percentage of the wells that surround the Parrs’ ranch.
Hydraulic fracturing is controversial because of the risks it poses for air and water pollution at drilling sites and nearby. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) explains that the process, in which the fluid is injected underground under great pressure to break apart the shale layer and release oil and natural gases, can cause air pollution and can contaminate drinking water. The process requires large amounts of water, and this can put a strain on local water supplies. In addition, there are concerns about the safe disposal of the used water.