According to the complaint, the defendants dispose of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing or fracking deep inside the earth, causing unnatural seismic activity that resulted in man-made earthquakes.
The plaintiffs seek to hold the defendants responsible for the physical and emotional suffering felt by the residents living in and around Pawnee, Oklahoma.
The complaint states that Oklahoma is the most seismically active state in the U.S. Earlier this year the U.S. Geological Survey predicted that the state was at increased risk for a highly damaging earthquake. Subsequently, on September 3, 2016 a 5.8 magnitude quake struck Pawnee. Since then, at least 52 temblors of magnitude 2.5 and up have been recorded in the area, including a 4.5 Richter scale event on November 2.
The complaint further states that while the oil and gas industry has publicly denied that seismic issues are the result of fracking, the number of quakes in Oklahoma has increased more than 300-fold, from a high of 167 before 2009 to 5,838 in 2015. The severity of the events has also increased, as earthquakes with magnitudes 3.5 or higher occurred four times in 2009 but 220 times last year, the plaintiffs state.
The suit seeks to represent a class of Oklahoma citizens who owned property in Pawnee, Creek and Noble counties between September 3 and the present. The proposed class is seeking punitive damages and relief for physical property damage, market value losses to real estate and emotional distress.
The plaintiffs are represented by Billy Joe Ellington, Attorney at Law, Robin Greenwald and Curt Marshall of Weitz & Luxenberg PC, Scott E. Poynter of Poynter Law Group, and Nate Steel, Alex T. Gray and Jeremy Hutchinson of Steel Wright Gray & Hutchinson PLLC.
The case is James Adams et al. v. Eagle Road Oil LLC et al., case number CJ-2016-78, in the District Court of Pawnee County, Oklahoma.