In a toxic tort case arising from drilling, completion, and
hydraulic fracturing activities in a residential area, Antero
Resources Corporation obtained a dismissal with prejudice of all of
the plaintiffs' claims for failure to make a prima facie
showing of exposure, injury, and causation in accordance with
Lore v. Lone Pine Corp., 1986 WL 637507 (N.J. Sup. Ct.,
Nov. 18, 1986).
In this complex toxic tort action, the plaintiffs asserted claims
for negligence, negligence per se, nuisance, strict liability,
trespass, and medical monitoring, premised on allegations that the
defendants committed tortious acts while drilling and completing
three natural gas wells in Silt, Colorado. The plaintiffs made
vague allegations of "health injuries" from exposure to
air and water allegedly contaminated by defendants with
"hazardous gases, chemicals and industrial wastes." The
plaintiffs also alleged loss of use and enjoyment of their
property, diminution in value of property, loss of quality of life,
and other damages.
Cognizant of the significant discovery and cost burdens presented
by a case of this nature, Colorado District Court Judge Ann Frick
endeavored to invoke a more efficient procedure than that set out
in the standard case management order, and ordered plaintiffs
— before full discovery and other procedures were allowed
— to make a prima facie showing of exposure, injury, and
causation in a Modified Case Management Order (a/k/a a Lone
Pine order). In part, the court relied on the fact that the
Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission had conducted an
investigation of the plaintiffs' well water and had concluded
that the water supply was not affected by oil and gas operations in
Plaintiffs failed to make the required prima facie showing.
Judge Frick concluded that "there is neither sufficient data
nor expert analysis stating with any level of probability
that a causal connection does in fact exist between Plaintiffs'
injuries and Plaintiffs' exposure to Defendants' drilling
activities." Accordingly, the court dismissed the
plaintiffs' claims with prejudice. This dismissal is the first
known instance in the context of hydraulic fracturing
Vinson & Elkins LLP and Hogan Lovells represent Antero
Resources Corporation and Antero Resources Piceance Corporation in
Read a copy of the court's Order re Defendants' Motion
to Dismiss, or in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment, issued on
May 9, 2012, in Strudley et al. v. Antero Resources
Corporation, et al., No. 2011CV2218, in the 2nd Judicial
District Court of Denver County, Colorado.
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