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Dimock Verdict Headline Fail

shale gas outrages - Tom Shepstone ReportsTom Shepstone
Shepstone Management Company, Inc.


The only thing worse than the media reporting of the Dimock verdict was the collection of false, misleading and just plain wrong headlines it produced.

Our post of yesterday about the Dimock verdict and what the media got wrong in reporting on it (or, more accurately, what it missed because it wasn’t there for the trial) provides a rundown of the major facts indicating why the verdict was most likely an act of jury nullification. There is one other aspect to the story that we didn’t have room to address in that article, but also deserves attention; the collection of totally false, misleading and just plain wrong headlines that accompanied both media and fractivist reporting of the Dimock verdict.

Dimock Verdict

The headlines speak for themselves as to exactly what’s wrong when one compares to them to some very simple statements made at the trial. Take, for example, this unequivocal statement by Judge Carlson following a mention by Dr. Tarek Saba, Cabot’s witness, that he had written a book with a chapter on hydraulic fracturing:

Any injury to the plaintiff’s property did not arise out of hydraulic fracturing, but other drilling activity…That’s why I thought I would remind the jury of that fact. But I appreciate learning about some of the book chapters you have written even if those do not relate to the claims in this case. Thank you very much. You may proceed.

Then, there was this exchange between Scott Ely and his attorney, Leslie Lewis:

LESLIE LEWIS: So, moving along, did you ever learn that there was any fracking components of fracking material or frack fluids in your water?

SCOTT ELY: Not that I know of.

Finally, there was this discussion during the Tony Ingraffea testimony:

JUDGE CARLSON: Ms. Lewis, perhaps it would be helpful if we got into the substance of Dr. Ingraffea’s opinion. You heard about some fracking materials and the like. I recall both parties saying in their opening that there’s no indication that the waters in this case were affected by fracking fluids. Was that correct?

LESLIE LEWIS: That is correct, Your Honor. This is not a case about fracking, that’s correct.

So, it’s clear, wouldn’t you say? It wasn’t a case about hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” as it’s known in everyday parlance or pollution from fracking. Everyone at the trial understood that, but here’s some of what we got in terms of headlines (emphasis added):

Jury Awards $4.24M in Fracking Pollution Case
The Hill

Pennsylvania Families Win $4.2 Million Damages in Fracking Lawsuit

Federal Jury Awards $4.24 Million to Dimock Families in Fracking Case

Pennsylvania Families Win $4.2 Million Damages in Fracking Lawsuit

Jury Awards Couple $4.25 Million in Dimock Fracking Case

$4.2 Million Fracking Verdict Likely to Spark More Suits

$4.2M FRACKING Verdict in Pa. Favors Families Against Driller

Pa. Families Win $4.24M Verdict In Cabot Fracking Trial

Dimock Fracking Water Pollution Case Rains More Pain On Oil And Gas Industry

’Gasland’ Families Win $4.24mn Fracking Lawsuit
Russia Today

Pennsylvania Families’ Victory in Fracking Water Contamination Suit Sets Strong Precedent, Says Josh Fox
PR Newswire

Pennsylvania Families Win Fracking Suit
Insurance Journal

Fracking Lawsuit Ends in $4.2M Award For Pennsylvania Families

Pennsylvania Families Win Fracking Lawsuit

In ‘David vs. Goliath’ Fracking Case, Families Handed Major Win
Common Dreams

Sue the Frackers!
Nofrackingway Blog

Dimock Water Contamination Verdict Prompts Calls for Federal Action on Fracking
Desmog Blog

Jury Awards Two Dimock Couples $4.2 Million After Finding Cabot Oil & Gas Negligent in Fracking Contamination Case

Dimock, PA: A Fracking Mess
Kentucky Waterways Alliance

‘Gasland’ Families Win $4.24M Victory Against Fracking Firm

Do we need any more evidence of media misdeeds, fractivist hysteria and headline exaggeration? I think not. But, then maybe a few other examples will help just a bit:

Dimock Verdict

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4 thoughts on “Dimock Verdict Headline Fail

    • Only because there is no context by which to judge. A real report might have bothered to summarize these sailent points from the trial testimony:
      1) There was no toxic contamination. This point was made by the plaintiff’s attorney.
      2) Water problems began, according to plaintiff’s own notes, months before the wells were spudded
      3) Under oath the Elys had to admit that they had never bothered to take their children – supposedly suffering from a myriad of health issues that they had widely publicized – to a doctor.
      4) Tony Ingraffia, expert witnesses for the plaintiffs was forced to admit under oath that he had no proof of contamination by Cabot, only his own speculation which was not based on any field tests, any review of drilling logs or ANYTHING..
      5) Ingraffia also admitted that his expert witness fee was paid to a charity (PSE) which he founded.
      6) The other expert witness for the plaintiffs (sorry, can’t find his name) admitted under oath that he did not actually draw the water sample he tested; instead he allowed Ely to do it and could not say if it was drawn properly.
      7) The judge had “Grave” & “Significant” concerns about key aspects of the case, and wound up dismissing the part of the case concerning a loss of property values.
      8) Even before the beginning of the trial, the judge blasted the plaintiffs and their attorney for last-minute submission of evidence, despite having 6.5 years to get their act together.

      Shall I continue? The bottom line is that despite the verdict, which is in direct conflict with all the evidence and testimony presented, the Elys and Huberts lost badly with respect to facts, not claims. However, this did not agree with the fractivist mentality that permeates most of the media, and therefore was not and never will be reported as it should.

      • I am simply saying that the headline is correct: the big news is the jury award.

        I am waiting for the trial transcripts to be published so I can read them for myself. That said, the story does not end there.

  1. Pingback: Dimock, PA – Court Case Status – March 1, 2016 : Keystone Clean Water Team (CCGG)

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