North Texas family awarded landmark $3 million judgment in fracking case

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by TODD UNGER / WFAA

WFAA

Posted on April 24, 2014 at 9:11 AM

DECATUR, Texas — At the end of a three-year court battle, a Wise County family said they are overjoyed to have won a significant legal victory against a local oil and gas company.

The Parrs filed a lawsuit against Aruba Petroleum in 2011 contending that the company's natural gas sites near their 40-acre property in Decatur caused a rash of health problems.

This week, a Dallas jury awarded them $3 million in what some anti-fracking advocates are calling a "first of its kind" victory.

"[I] was dizzy, nausea, all of that, and that progressed into a rash over my entire body,” said Lisa Parr, referring to symptoms she first noticed in 2008.

The health of her family increasingly deteriorated.

In 2010, neighbors in the area started taking footage of natural gas sites controlled by Aruba.

The family said the footage showed numerous violations, and soon they fingered the fracking sites for their health problems.

"There is no doubt. You kinda know you're going to have some vindication somewhere," said Bob Parr, referring to this week's judgment.

The family documented their health problems in extensive journals, some of which was entered into evidence at trial.

"That made a difference," Lisa Parr said.

A spokesman for Aruba Petroleum issued a statement reading, in part:

"The facts of the case and the law as applied to those facts do not support the verdict ... we contended the plaintiffs were neither harmed by the presence of our drilling operations nor was the value of their property diminished because of our natural gas development.”

The Parrs suspected one site in particular of causing the majority of the problems on their property. That well on a neighbor's farm is now inactive.

The original suit named a number of other well operators in the area but only Aruba took their defense to trial. 

Aruba said it was too early to comment on an appeal, but the Parrs say their attorneys are expecting another round in the legal fight.

E-mail tunger@wfaa.com

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