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Class Action Lawsuit over Fracking-Induced Earthquakes Filed by W&L in Payne County

December 6, 2016
Home Firm News Class Action Lawsuit over Fracking-Induced Earthquakes Filed by W&L in Payne County

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Weitz & Luxenberg has filed a class action lawsuit in Payne County, Oklahoma over earthquakes caused by the injection of fracking wastewater deep underground. The lawsuit comes one month after a powerful 5.0-magnitude earthquake shook the town of Cushing, causing extensive damage in the area.

“Not only did last month’s earthquake in Cushing damage historic buildings that residents live and work in, but it also took away the sense of safety a person is supposed to feel in her own home,” said Robin Greenwald, head of Weitz & Luxenberg’s Environmental and Consumer Protection Unit. “The energy companies behind these tremors need to take responsibility for the physical and emotional damage they are causing, and this lawsuit will force them to do so.”

The November earthquake in Cushing left many buildings in the downtown area – some of which are over 100 years old – with substantial structural damage. Cushing City Manager Steve Spears said at the time that 40 to 50 buildings were damaged by the temblor.

Aftershocks Continue to Damage Cushing Buildings

Aftershocks from the 5.0-magnitude earthquake continue to cause damage in the area, including a 4.0-magnitude earthquake one kilometer north of Cushing on November 22, and a 3.6-magnitude tremor five kilometers north of Cushing on December 5. The lawsuit contends that all of these earthquakes were caused by defendants’ pollution of the environment through their disposal of fracking wastewater with injection wells.

“While powerful earthquakes have become a regular part of life for many Oklahomans in recent years, that does not mean we should sit back and accept them as the new norm,” said Curt Marshall, associate attorney in Weitz & Luxenberg’s Environmental Toxic Tort litigation unit. “The earthquakes are human induced and must be stopped.  The quakes and their aftershocks are continuing to damage property in the area, and residents are left wondering whether the next quake will be bigger than the last. With this lawsuit, we are standing up to the companies behind these tremors to tell them that enough is enough.”

The class action lawsuit names White Star Petroleum, LLC, Crown Energy Company, PetroWarrior LLC, FHA Investments LLC and Cher Oil Company Ltd. as defendants, among others.

Several Lawsuits Previously Filed in the State

Weitz & Luxenberg has already filed several claims against companies responsible for these earthquakes, including a similar class action lawsuit in Pawnee and a federal declaratory and injunctive claim under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). In this claim, Weitz & Luxenberg is representing the Sierra Club and is seeking a declaration that these business practices are an imminent and substantial danger to public health and the environment, as well as an order requiring operators to immediately reduce the amount of wastewater being disposed of underground.

The team of attorneys managing these cases for Weitz & Luxenberg is being led by of counsel attorney Robin Greenwald and associate attorney Curt Marshall.

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