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Fracking: In apparent first, family gets courtroom victory in health case

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Robert and Lisa ParrlIn what is being hailed as a landmark victory for opponents of hydraulic fracturing, a Texas family has won a $2.95 million verdict against a Plano oil and gas firm.

Robert and Lisa Parr and their daughter claimed that airborne toxins from the 22 wells run by Aruba Petroleum near their 40-acre Decatur ranch affected their health and poisoned their livestock and drinking water. The process that the firm used, also known as fracking, involves water and chemicals being injected deep underground to release natural gas trapped in rock formations.

A six-person Dallas jury found in the Parrs’ favor, 5 to 1, and then delivered the multimillion-dollar verdict on Tuesday.

“They’re vindicated,” blogged David Matthews, the Houston attorney representing the family.

Environmentalists and others concerned about the negative impact of fracking say this is an important breakthrough for litigation. Although others have sued oil and gas companies over alleged injuries from fracking, most have settled in agreements that include gag orders. This case is reportedly the first to result in a courtroom victory.

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