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Parr Family Awarded 3 Million Dollar Fracking Judgment

A Dallas, Texas jury has awarded the Parr family $2.9 million for personal injury and property damages in the lawsuit the family brought against Aruba Petroleum Inc., which is based out of Plano, Texas. The fracking case lasted two weeks and ended, coincidentally, on Tuesday, April 22, Earth Day.

Fracking is a process that involves drillers pumping large amounts of water that is mixed with chemicals and sand into a rock or shale formation. Fracking fractures the shale around the well. This permits the natural gas in the shale to flow freely.

The Parr family have a 40-acre ranch in Decatur, Texas. Decatur is around 40 miles northwest of Fort Worth and a little over 60 miles northwest of Dallas.

Serious health problems

It was late in 2008 when the Parr family began to experience serious health problems. At that time, they were totally unaware that those health problems were associated with what they refer to as “a multitude” of fracking and drilling operations that sprang up near their ranch.

Lisa Parr began to experience dizziness, migraine headaches and nausea, which she attributed to the flu. However, when her symptoms progressively grew worse, she knew there had to be something more serious.

Parr said, “By 2009, I was having a multitude of problems. My central nervous system was messed up. I couldn’t hear, and my vision was messed up. My entire body would shake inside. I was vomiting white foam in the mornings.”

Several symptoms

To make matters worse, in 2009, her husband, Robert, and their 11-year-old daughter, Emma, also became sick with several symptoms. Parr said, “They had nosebleeds, vision problems, nausea, rashes, blood pressure issues. Being that the wells were not on our property, we had no idea that what they were doing on the property around us was affecting us.”

The lawsuit said that Aruba Petroleum, Inc. had 22 natural gas wells within a 2-mile radius of the property of the Parr family. Three of those wells were very near the Parrs’ home. The one nearest to their home was 791 feet away.

The lawsuit alleged that due to a lack of emission controls and poor management, Aruba created a “private nuisance” to the Parr family. This was done by Aruba producing harmful air pollution and exposing the Parr family to harmful emissions of volatile organic compounds, toxic air pollutants and diesel exhaust.

Fracking case

The $2.9 million awarded by the jury is the first of its kind in a fracking case. The Parr family’s attorney, Houston-based Brad Gilde, believes the victory for the Parr family “marks an important precedent for the future of natural gas production.”

Aruba contended that it consistently met state regulatory standards for air emissions. The company also argued that there was no evidence that its fracking of the wells hurt the Parr family in any way.

Aruba said in a statement after the verdict, “We contended the plaintiffs were neither harmed by the presence of our drilling operations nor was the value of their property diminished because of our natural gas development. We presented thorough and expert testimony from recognized toxicologists and medical professionals, as well as local real estate professionals, to help the jury make an informed decision.”

While the Parr family is pleased with the verdict, there remains the possibility of an appeal by Aruba.