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Ladra v. New Dominion, LLC

ELR Citation: 45 ELR 20128
Nos. 2015 OK 53, (Okla., 06/30/2015)

The Supreme Court of Oklahoma held that a woman injured in a 2011 earthquake may go forward with her suit against two energy companies for allegedly causing the quake due to hydraulic fracturing operations. A lower court dismissed the case, concluding that the Oklahoma Corporation Commission has exclusive jurisdiction over cases concerning oil and gas operations. But the Commission's jurisdiction is limited solely to the resolution of public rights. The Commission lacks authority over disputes between two or more private persons or entities in which the public interest is not involved. Here, the woman alleges that the companies engaged in ultrahazardous activities and that they have a duty to use ordinary care and to not operate or maintain their injection wells in such a way as to cause or contribute to seismic activity. Allowing the lower court to have jurisdiction in this case does not exert inappropriate "oversight and control" over the Commission, as argued by the companies. Rather, it conforms to the long-held rule that the state's district courts have exclusive jurisdiction over private tort actions when regulated oil and gas operations are at issue. The court, therefore, reversed and remanded the lower court's dismissal.