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Judge Approves Class-Action Status For Earthquake Lawsuit Against Oil Company

Joe Wertz
StateImpact Oklahoma
A disposal well owned by New Dominion near Prague, Okla.

A district court judge has approved class-action status for a lawsuit accusing an Tulsa oil company of being responsible for damage caused by earthquakes.

The judge ruled that residents and business owners with property in nine counties — Cleveland, Creek, Lincoln, Logan, Okfuskee, Oklahoma, Payne, Pottawatomie and Seminole — can join a 2015 lawsuit brought by resident Jennifer Lin Cooper after a string of earthquakes shook near the city of Prague in 2011.

The lawsuit accuses New Dominion of operating wastewater disposal wells that triggered the shaking, which peaked with a 5.7-magnitude earthquake that injured two people and damaged more than a dozen buildings.

New Dominion President and General Counsel Fred Buxton declined to comment on the pending lawsuit, but the company has denied causing the earthquakes in court filings.

The Prague earthquake was the first Oklahoma temblor scientists linked to the energy industry practice of pumping oil-field wastewater into underground disposal wells.

Trial is set to begin in September. Attorney Scott Poynter, who represents Cooper and the class of plaintiffs, expects trial to last two weeks.

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Joe was a founding reporter for StateImpact Oklahoma (2011-2019) covering the intersection of economic policy, energy and environment, and the residents of the state. He previously served as Managing Editor of Urban Tulsa Weekly, as the Arts & Entertainment Editor at Oklahoma Gazette and worked as a Staff Writer for The Oklahoman. Joe was a weekly arts and entertainment correspondent for KGOU from 2007-2010. He grew up in Bartlesville, Okla. and studied journalism at the University of Central Oklahoma.
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