A Texas family is $3 million richer after winning a lawsuit against Plano-based oil company Aruba Petroleum.
Bob and Lisa Parr sued Aruba in 2011 after their family started suffering health problems believed to have been caused by Aruba’s nearby operations. The family suffered from nose bleeds, nausea, and skin rashes immediately after moving into their new ranch home in 2008.
“They’re vindicated,” said David Matthews, the family’s attorney. “It takes guts to say, ‘I'm going to stand here and protect my family from an invasion of our right to enjoy our property.’”
Matthews pointed out that there are over 100 natural gas wells within a two mile radius of the Parr’s property.
In addition to the aforementioned nose bleeds and nausea, the family suffered from ear ringing, asthma and depression.
“These are all classic symptoms tied to hydrocarbon exposure,” said Brad Gilde, the attorney who represented the Parrs in court. “The boom hit the Barnett in 2008 and it just so happened that’s when the Parrs moved onto the ranch. Almost immediately their health effects started to manifest.”
The award drew praise from various organizations in Texas.
“Six regular people who knew nothing about fracking were presented with the facts and awarded the victims $3 million. It’s going to be hard to spin that,” said Sharon Jones of the Earthworks environmental advocacy organization.
An attorney representing Aruba said the company may choose to appeal the award.
“It was arbitrary,” said attorney Ben Barron. “How do you determine which well caused what, if any, damages?"
It is worth noting, although this family just won a lot of money, the long-term health impact of their exposure remains unknown.