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Jury Awards $20,000 in Nuisance Suit Against Energy Company

Photo of Brant Stogner

In February of 2008, Chesapeake Energy, an Oklahoma City-based energy company, purchased a 5 acre lot of land in Fort Worth, Texas. By 2011, natural gas was flowing from what would eventually become three wells on the property. Unfortunately for nearby resident Sam Crowder, this drill pad is a mere 165 feet from his property line.

In November of 2011, Mr. Crowder filed suit against Chesapeake Operating, complaining of noise, odors, and high truck traffic from the well site that was interfering with his use and enjoyment of his property. On May 23, 2014, a Tarrant County jury agreed with Mr. Crowder and awarded him $20,000 in damages. While this award is a mere fraction of the $108,000 Mr. Crowder was seeking in trial, it was a victory, and he was the prevailing party. The jury found that Chesapeake created a private nuisance with its well site, and that the facility was abnormal and out of place for its environment.

During the trial Sam Crowder testified that the well site was "a constant annoyance," citing dust, round-the-clock noise from a compressor on the site, and diesel truck traffic. Other homeowners were called as witnesses and also complained of the same annoyances. An attorney for the firm representing Mr. Crowder, publically stated afterwards that the verdict "established a very good precedent of a nuisance case of gas well drilling in an urban environment." This is believed to be the first reported verdict where a Tarrant County jury found for a plaintiff in a nuisance case related to natural gas production. However, a Dallas County jury awarded a family $2.9 million earlier in April of this year against Aruba Petroleum.

If you or someone you know have been injured or killed due to the negligence or wrongdoing of another, or have had your property rights infringed by an oil and gas company, contact an attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend by calling 713-396-3964 or 1-800-594-4884.

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