Fed Court Overturns $4.2M Dimock Judgement Against Cabot O&G

Big news broke Friday afternoon. Short history lesson for those who are new to MDN: There were 14 families along the Carter Road area of Dimock Township, PA (Susquehanna County) that reportedly experienced turbidity in their water from methane migrating, supposedly from Cabot’s drilling operations nearby. The state Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) investigated in 2010 and declared Cabot guilty and imposed stiff fines and requirements, including a requirement to install permanent water treatment systems at each home and even an offer to each of the families to pay twice what their property was worth at the time (see PA DEP Takes Aggressive Action Against Cabot Oil & Gas over Dimock Township Methane Contamination). We won’t recount all of the twists and turns we documented over the years, including research that showed Cabot wasn’t responsible for the methane migration. All of the 14 properties either sold to Cabot or got their water systems repaired–except for two holdout families who were riding the horse of hope that they could sue Cabot for big money and retire millionaires. For a time, it appeared their plan worked. Last year, in March 2016, a trial took place in Scranton. It was a sham trial, with the lawyer for the two families engaging in borderline unethical practices in the courtroom in her attempt to influence the jury. One of the two families admitted, under oath on the witness stand, that their water had too much methane in it BEFORE Cabot Oil & Gas began to drill nearby. The same family, the Elys, later built a 22-room, $1 million mansion on the same property AFTER they admit there was trouble with the water. And yet the jury found Cabot at fault and awarded the Elys $2.75 million. The other family suing Cabot got $1.49 million. As we said at the time: “That’s called brain-dead. A total miscarriage of justice–stupidity on the same level as the OJ Simpson jury” (see Dimock Jury Levies $4.24M Judgement Against Cabot in Dimock Case). Indeed it was brain-dead, as we now see from a federal court which heard Cabot’s appeal. On Friday a federal judge tossed out the $4.24 million verdict against Cabot, calling the evidence against Cabot “spare, sometimes contradictory, frequently rebutted by other scientific expert testimony, and relied in some measure upon tenuous inferences” (full copy of the ruling below). Unfortunately the judge did not find for Cabot and dismiss the case, but instead ordered a new/second trial. However, the new trial will not happen in state court amateur hour–instead it will happen in federal court–IF it happens…

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