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Oil Companies Contend Pawnee Quake Wasn’t Caused by Their Activities

 

A judge is still considering whether to dismiss a lawsuit filed by homeowners against some oil and gas operators following the 5.8 magnitude earthquake last fall in Pawnee.

The suit, CJ 2017-00018 was filed by Johnny and Janice Bryant against Cumming Oil Company and Eagle Road Oil LLC and up to 25 John Does.

A hearing was held July 10 by Judge Patrick Pickerill where the plaintiffs presented more evidence against a move by the oil companies to have the suit dismissed.

Attorneys for the oil firms contend the class-action suit wrongly singled them out as causing the quake by disposal of wastewater through injection wells.

“They have not alleged that this is all of the companies that have disposed of water into the Arbuckle,” argued an attorney during a May 31 hearing before the judge. “They’re not tying the earthquake to specific conduct.”

They also are fighting claims of ultrahazardous activity.

“How can it be, if our clients are doing what the law requires, under a regulatory scheme that says that injection is the proper way to disposal of this wastewater, how can that be an ultrahazardous activity. We submit, your Honor, that it can’t be. It’s never been held to be. As long as you’re following the law, you’re not in violation of the law. You’re not illegally doing your business,” argued one of the attorneys.