An investigative report from Bloomberg news agency claims that US oil and gas companies are signing quiet settlements over individual lawsuits in which they pay large sums to keep the cases silent.
Bloomberg interviewed one couple who sued Range Resources Corp (RRC) two years ago claiming that natural gas drilling near their home was causing headaches, burning eyes and sort throats.
According to the report, Range Resources and two other companies involved in the lawsuit agreed to pay $750,000 with plenty of strings attached. Among the strings, according to court filings, was the plaintiffs’ promise not to tell anyone.
The news agency’s theory is that this is becoming a trend, with other companies involved in hydraulic fracturing in a number of US states agreeing to similar “silent settlements”.
Bloomberg identifies this trend as an attempt to keep negative data about fracking from regulators, policymakers, health officials and the media.
“At this point they feel they can get out of this litigation relatively cheaply,” Marc Bern, an attorney with Napoli Bern Ripka Sholnik LLP in New York who has negotiated about 30 settlements on behalf of homeowners, told Bloomberg.
By. Jen Alic of Oilprice.com