For over six years, individuals living in Dimock Township, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, have been asserting claims against Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation related to alleged damage to their water supplies purportedly caused by two unconventional gas wells. On March 10, 2016, a jury rendered a verdict in favor of the individuals, awarding them $4.24 million. However, Magistrate Judge Martin Carlson quickly vacated the award, noting that weaknesses in the plaintiffs’ case and proof, coupled with serious and troubling irregularities in the testimony and presentation by the plaintiffs’ attorneys, greatly undermined faith in the jury’s verdict. (The court delivered a stinging blow directly to the plaintiffs’ counsel, New York-based Leslie Lewis, for overzealous advocacy, which included several instances of inappropriate conduct throughout the trial.) Further, the court held that the jury’s award bore no discernible relationship to the evidence.
Although the judge has encouraged the parties to reach a meaningful settlement, this decision sets the stage for another trial and the continuance of the Cabot Oil – Dimock saga.