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Residents Plan To Drop, Refile Earthquake Lawsuit Against Oklahoma Energy Giants

SandRidge Energy Inc. facilities superintendent Andy Ferguson, left, opens the valve at one of the company’s shuttered disposal wells on Aug. 10.
Sarah Terry-Cobo
/
The Journal Record

Two pairs of Logan County residents have dropped legal action against a quartet of Oklahoma energy companies.

Lisa Griggs and April Marler alleged their homes were damaged from earthquakes that were caused by New Dominion and subsidiaries of Chesapeake Energy, Devon Energy, and SandRidge Energy. Brenda Lene and Jon Darryn Lene also say their home was damaged by earthquakes caused by water injection. 

The plaintiff’s attorney Scott Poynter told The Journal Record’s Sarah Terry-Cobo the law allows him to dismiss the case and refile it later:

He said he expects to file as many as three new cases targeting damage sustained from three earthquake clusters. He said he’s working with geoscientists to develop a stronger case to establish which companies should be held responsible and the degree of fault each company should have. . . . Poynter’s two lawsuits are among at least five filed against drillers related to wastewater disposal and earthquakes within the last year. He said he’s examining Judge Stephen P. Friot’s rationale on defendants’ dismissal requests in other earthquake cases. Friot’s decision in those cases will help Poynter plan his strategy, Poynter said.

Poynter also said he is working with scientists to better determine which disposal wells likely contributed to series of quakes, known as swarms.

Representatives from Devon and New Dominion both declined to discuss the litigation, and Chesapeake and SandRidge didn't immediately return requests for comment.

SandRidge Energy Inc.’s financial woes won’t change Poynter’s strategy, he said. The driller filed for bankruptcy in May in a Houston bankruptcy court. Any pending lawsuits will be stayed until the company is out of bankruptcy. The company’s next hearing in the bankruptcy proceedings is scheduled for Sept. 6 and the judge could approve the company’s proposed plan with creditors. Poynter said he expects to refile soon. “We’re going to come back bigger, stronger and badder,” he said. “My clients are looking forward to our day in court.”

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Brian Hardzinski is from Flower Mound, Texas and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He began his career at KGOU as a student intern, joining KGOU full time in 2009 as Operations and Public Service Announcement Director. He began regularly hosting Morning Edition in 2014, and became the station's first Digital News Editor in 2015-16. Brian’s work at KGOU has been honored by Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI), the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters, the Oklahoma Associated Press Broadcasters, and local and regional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists. Brian enjoys competing in triathlons, distance running, playing tennis, and entertaining his rambunctious Boston Terrier, Bucky.
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