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Dimock, PA, Saga Ends With Cabot, Families Reaching Settlement

Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. reached a settlement earlier this month with landowners from Dimock Township, PA, who had pressed ahead with a lawsuit alleging that the company contaminated their groundwater supplies from natural gas drilling nearly a decade ago.

Court records indicate U.S. Magistrate Judge Martin C. Carlson approved the settlement Sept. 21, although the terms were not disclosed by either side. Carlson reversed a federal jury’s March 2016 decision earlier this year, concluding that there wasn’t enough evidence to justify the more than $4 million in punitive and compensatory damages awarded to the families.

Carlson threw out the jury’s decision to award $2.75 million to Scott and Monica Ely, and $1.49 million to Ray and Victoria Hubert. He ordered a new trial, extending the saga that began in 2009.

At the time, dozens of residents from the small Susquehanna County community filed a federal civil lawsuit against Cabot. By 2012, 40 residents settled with Cabot outside of court for an undisclosed amount, but the two families pressed ahead with the lawsuit.  

The Dimock incident served as an early rallying cry for shale gas opponents, and it was featured in the anti-fossil fuel documentary Gasland. An attorney for the families said only that they’re “happy and relieved to put the matter behind them.”

Cabot spokesman George Stark confirmed the settlement, saying the “matter is now closed.” The company filed a complaint in a different case earlier this year to recover damages for what it claims was an extortion attempt related to a lawsuit filed by another affected Dimock resident.

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