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Tort Suit Seeks to Hold Drillers Responsible for Oklahoma Earthquakes

In what may be part of a wave of litigation blaming increased seismicity on oil and gas development activities, 12 residents of Oklahoma City and its suburbs filed suit against oil and gas drillers and operators of wastewater injection wells following two earthquakes in central Oklahoma.  See Felts v. Devon Energy Production Co., LP, Case No. CJ-2016-137 (Oklahoma County Dist. Ct. Jan 11, 2015).  Plaintiffs allege 4.3- and 4.2-magnitude earthquakes, on Dec. 29, 2015 and Jan. 1, 2016 respectively, caused substantial damage to Plaintiffs’ homes and property.   Plaintiffs’ complaint sounds in negligence and strict liability, alleging Defendants’ underground injection of wastewater from gas drilling operations are the proximate cause of “unnatural and unprecedented” earthquakes in the area.  The suit comes as Oklahoma drilling regulators consider measures to address what the Oklahoma Geological Survey has identified as increased seismic activity in the area, and follows a 2015 Oklahoma Supreme Court holding that jurisdiction over cases alleging damage from wastewater injection-related earthquakes rests with the courts and not with the state oil and gas regulator. 

© 2022 Beveridge & Diamond PC National Law Review, Volume VI, Number 43
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About this Author

Graham C. Zorn Environmental, Toxic Tort, Products Liability Litigation Attorney Beveridge & Diamond Washington, DC
Principal

Graham Zorn focuses his practice on environmental, toxic tort, and products liability litigation.

His representative experience includes extensive work on a series of complex products liability and toxic tort cases related to alleged groundwater, and litigation over lead in drinking water. He has represented individual businesses, trade associations, and municipalities in litigation, as well as in compliance, enforcement, and counseling matters involving the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, CERCLA and other state and federal environmental statutes. He also counsels domestic and...

202-789-6024
Daniel M. Krainin Environmental Litigation Attorney Beveridge & Diamond New York, NY
Principal

Dan deploys more than two decades of environmental litigation experience to resolve clients’ legal and business challenges.

Primarily focused on environmental and toxic tort litigation, Dan helps clients successfully resolve groundwater contamination, hazardous waste site remediation, natural resource damages, permit defense and product-related matters. He enjoys using his skills as a litigator to help clients solve environmental problems.

Among his many wins, Dan successfully led a team that defeated an emergency challenge to a permit that Dan’s client needed to continue its...

212-702 5417
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