Couple claims fracking is destroying their land

By Kelly Holleran | Sep 25, 2014

CHARLESTON – Two Harrison County residents have filed suit against the oil and gas companies they allege harmed their land when they drilled horizontally into it in an attempt to retrieve the resources.

Bobby Lee Woodard and Zoe A. Woodard say they own a home at 3620 Isaacs Creek Road in Lost Creek, which is close to the natural gas drilling activities of the defendants Antero Appalachian and Hall Drilling.

The defendant companies utilize a process known as fracking to retrieve the oil and natural gas from the ground. Fracking is a controversial process that releases chemicals into the ground under extreme pressure in an effort to dislodge the gas, according to the complaint.

There are many dangerous environmental concerns that accompany the fracking process, the suit states. For instance, natural gas is often burned during the process, which results in excessive emissions of hydrogen sulfide and other chemicals, the complaint says.

"Defendants' natural gas activities, acts, omissions, and instrumentalities that are within defendants' exclusive control, are dangerous, and have caused grave harm to plaintiffs," the suit states.

Because of the defendants' actions, the plaintiffs allege they suffered from an impaired ability to enjoy their property, including property damage, substantial discomfort, inconvenience, annoyance and a lost peace of mind, among other harmful side effects.

Although the defendants have known of the dangerous propensity of their activities, they have failed to resolve the issue, according to the complaint.

The Woodards allege negligence against the defendants, saying they failed to prevent injury to others, failed to exercise reasonable care, failed to take affirmative action to control or avoid increasing danger and failed to use ordinary care to protect others from peril that is under the defendants' control.

The Woodards seek an unspecified judgment, plus punitive damages, costs and other relief the court deems just.

They are represented by Aaron Harrah and James C. Peterson of Hill, Peterson, Carper, Bee and Deitzler in Charleston, and Anthony J. Majestro of Powell and Majestro in Charleston.

Circuit Judge James Stucky has been assigned to the case.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 14-C-1503

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