Court Tells Dimock PA Residents to Share Medical Records

A group of more than 60 residents in the Dimock, PA area sued Cabot Oil & Gas in 2009 claiming they had been exposed to pollution as a result of hydraulic fracturing in the area. The lawsuit wants Cabot to pay for medical monitoring as part of the settlement, but they refused to allow Cabot access to their medical records in order to verify their claims. Last week a court told the claimants if they want Cabot to pay, they will have to share their medical records.

A group of Northeast Pennsylvania residents will have to allow a natural gas drilling company access to their medical records if they wish to pursue their class action lawsuit against the company, a court-appointed special master ruled last week.

More than 60 claimants sued Houston-based Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. in 2009 in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania in Scranton, Pa., demanding medical monitoring for pollution exposure resulting from the company’s regional “fracking” operation in the Marcellus Shale near Dimock, Pa. The company is regionally based in Montrose.

In February, the company’s attorneys asked the plaintiffs, who live in and near Dimock, for access to their medical records in order to verify claims of personal injury and the need for medical monitoring. Thirty-eight of the plaintiffs moved to block the request in March on the grounds that they claimed no personal injury as a result of the drilling.

The special master, Jennifer Clark, on Nov. 1 ruled for the company, finding that the records were relevant to the claims seeking medical monitoring, regardless of whether any individual plaintiff had sustained an injury.*

*Business Insurance (Nov 9, 2011) – Court rules for natural gas company in class action medical records dispute