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W&L Files Class Action Lawsuit in Pawnee over Human-Caused EarthquakesNov. 18, 2016
Weitz & Luxenberg has filed a class action lawsuit in Pawnee, Oklahoma over earthquakes induced by corporate waste disposal practices. The lawsuit seeks relief for the physical and emotional suffering felt by residents who have been forced to endure hundreds of these temblors in recent years.
“Dangerous tremors have become a constant threat to the residents of Pawnee, but the energy companies behind them don’t seem to care,” said Robin Greenwald, head of Weitz & Luxenberg’s Environmental and Consumer Protection Unit. “These companies are showing no sign of stopping the business practices that are putting Pawnee families at risk, and with this lawsuit we hope to hold them accountable for their actions.”
Prediction of Highly Damaging Earthquake Came True
The lawsuit points to how scientists at the United States Geological Survey (USGS) predicted earlier this year that the state was at an increased risk for a highly damaging earthquake, and how this prediction came true on September 3 when a magnitude-5.8 earthquake – the biggest in state history – struck Pawnee. In the time since, at least 52 earthquakes of magnitude 2.5 and above have hit the Pawnee area, including a 4.5-magnitude tremor on November 2.
Weitz & Luxenberg held a community meeting in Pawnee last month to speak with residents who have been affected by these earthquakes.
“Residents of Pawnee did nothing to deserve living in a constant state of fear of when the next big earthquake will rock their home,” said Curt Marshall, associate attorney in Weitz & Luxenberg’s Environmental Toxic Tort litigation unit. “We can’t look back after the next earthquake wishing we had done more to hold the companies behind them accountable for their actions. This lawsuit is a big step forward in giving peace of mind back to the people of Oklahoma.”
The class action lawsuit announced today names Eagle Road Oil LLC and Cummings Oil Company as defendants, among others. It was filed in conjunction with attorney Billy Joe Ellington, the Poynter Law Group and Steel, Wright, Gray & Hutchinson, PLLC.
Previous Lawsuit Filed on Behalf of Sierra Club
Weitz & Luxenberg has already filed several claims against companies responsible for these earthquakes, including 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.
Of counsel attorney Robin Greenwald is heading the team of attorneys managing these cases for Weitz & Luxenberg, along with associate attorney Curt Marshall.