Oklahoma Lawsuits Claim Link Between Fracking and Earthquakes
Class-action and tribal filings cite cluster of quakes in 2016
A group of lawsuits that link a cluster of earthquakes in Oklahoma to the disposal of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing are moving forward. On Sept. 11, Oklahoma District Judge Phillip Corley lifted a hold that had been placed on two class-action lawsuits involving a 5.0-magnitude earthquake in November 2016 near Cushing, Okla., pending federal action on related cases.
On August 31, Steadfast Insurance Co., a subsidiary of Zurich Holding Company of America, sued seven oil companies in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma.
Meanwhile, members of the Pawnee nation filed a similar lawsuit in August. Tribal members claimed they had suffered nerve damage and other physical ailments as a result of a 5.8-magnitude September 2016 earthquake.
According to Scott Poynter, attorney for the Pawnee litigants, Steadfast’s lawsuit marks the first time an insurance company has sued oil companies for earthquake-related damages. Steadfast paid $325,000 in claims related to the September quake. Now, it is trying to recover the funds from the energy companies. Oil and gas companies maintain that their methods of oil and gas extraction are safe.