Cabot rested its defense yesterday, the other side had no rebuttal and the Dimock case went to the jury based on the woeful evidence of the plaintiffs.
The Dimock trial wound down Tuesday as Cabot Oil and Gas attorneys finished up with their powerful defense. The plaintiffs offered no rebuttal and the case is headed to the jury for today after both sides give closing arguments and the judge provides instructions. The jury has but one claim to decide at this point, that being one of nuisance, which requires a finding that Cabot’s actions involved an unreasonable risk of harm. While jury decisions are unpredictable, that’s a difficult burden.
Why is it difficult? Well, consider these half-dozen points:
- There were only two wells at issue and it was established those wells were drilled in 2008 after the plaintiffs experienced any problems with their water.
- There was no testimony as to any risk of harm in drilling natural gas wells.
- There was considerable highly credible evidence from Cabot’s experts that all drilling had been done in accord with industry best management practices and had not impacted the plaintiffs’ water supplies.
- The testimony of the plaintiffs’ experts was revealed to be speculative and inconsistent with other data from independent studies of the area.
- There were very credible witnesses who had lived their entire lives in the area who testified the conditions described by the plaintiffs were common among neighbors long before there was any gas drilling in the area.
- The plaintiffs admitted, pre-trial, and confirmed during the trial they had no evidence of any pollution related to hydraulic fracturing.
It’s not hard to imagine Judge Carlson could have easily dismissed this final claim as well but he let it go to jury despite serious reservations about timing. Why? I can only guess, but I strongly suspect the reason is that a jury decision is more difficult to appeal if it goes against the plaintiffs and after six and one-half years, who wants more of this nonsense? So, now we wait for the verdict. I hope to bring some of the closing arguments to you along with that verdict in the very near future!