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Nolen Scott Ely v. Cabot Oil & Gas Corp.

Citation: 47 ELR 20057
No. 3:09-CV-228, (M.D. Pa. , 03/31/2017) (Carlson, J.)

A district court vacated a jury verdict and award of $4.2 million award in favor of two Pennsylvania families in a case involving well water contamination from a fracking operation. In 2009, 44 families sued an oil company for damages suffered as a result of the company's natural gas drilling operations. All but two of the families settled out of court. As a result of multiple years of discovery, and a dwindling number of plaintiffs, the scope of the litigation became significantly more limited. The court held that the the plaintiffs’ own failure to recognize the substantive change to their claims and the evidentiary limitations had the effect of repeatedly inviting the jury to engage in unwarranted speculation that was plainly prejudicial to the defense. The jury verdict in favor of the plaintiffs was vacated in its entirety and a new trial was ordered.