An Insane Dimock Verdict Gets Challenged

dimock verdict - Tom Shepstone ReportsTom Shepstone
Shepstone Management Company, Inc.


The Dimock verdict, so insane even the Scranton Times called it jury nullification, is now being challenged, thank goodness. May justice prevail this time.

The jury’s verdict in Scott Ely’s case against Cabot Oil & Gas was so counter to the facts, so opposite the law, so bad, even the Scranton Times used the words “jury nullification” to describe it. It was as if the Dallas Cowboys had scored 10 touchdowns to the Philadelphia Eagles single field goal, only to have the referees call them all back at the very end of the game and declare the Eagles the winners. It had to be challenged and now it has been, as Cabot has filed a compelling motion with the court to throw the whole thing out.


Sun Tzu: “Wheels of justice grind slow, but grind fine”

The Cabot motion is easy to digest and may be found in its entirety here. It will, of course, be supplemented later with detailed briefing of the arguments, but the major points are outlined in this motion and among them are the following that resonated with me as an observer of the trial itself:

  • It was uncontradicted that the Plaintiffs’ alleged water supply changes/impacts occurred prior to the stipulated date upon which the drilling of either well commenced.
  • Plaintiffs’ hydrogeology expert failed to identify any pathway that connected either of the Gesford wells to the water supplies at issue.
  • Plaintiffs presented no evidence that the methane gas allegedly in their water supplies originated from either of the Gesford wells or was from a source somehow “freed” by the drilling of the Gesford wells.
  • Plaintiffs’ rock mechanic expert admitted that his entire theory of impact to the Plaintiffs’ water supplies was based on speculation.
  • Plaintiffs’ rock mechanic expert was not qualified to testify regarding hydrogeologic connection and/or methane migration between the Gesford wells and the Plaintiffs’ water supplies.
  • Plaintiffs’ counsel made improper closing arguments, including (1) inviting speculation about facts not in evidence; (2) engaging in personal vouching; (3) making clear implications or statements about the COSA requirements and settlements with plaintiffs, which were excluded from evidence; (4) misrepresenting that the Court already had made a prima facie finding of Cabot’s liability; and (5) implying that Cabot had threatened Plaintiffs and pressured them to settle their claims.
  • Plaintiffs’ counsel made wholly baseless accusations that Cabot destroyed and/or withheld evidence.
  • Plaintiffs’ counsel purposefully violated the Court’s evidentiary rulings by making statements and questioning witnesses, without approaching the bench first, concerning matters that (1) had been excluded by the Court’s prior rulings on Cabot’s motions in limine and/or (2) had been excluded at Plaintiffs’ counsel’s request, thereby forcing Cabot to object and approach the bench, in effect reversing the burden by imposing it on Cabot, and leaving the jury with the unmistakable impression that Cabot had something to hide.
  • Plaintiffs’ counsel routinely, repeatedly, and openly presented evidence to contradict the parties’ binding stipulation regarding the date drilling began on the first Gesford well and told the jury in closing argument that the stipulation “doesn’t matter.”
  • Plaintiffs’ counsel implied during witness questioning and closing argument that there was more to say on a topic but that counsel was hamstrung from discussing the topic further.
  • Despite the Court’s frequent admonitions, Plaintiffs’ counsel continuously asked improper questions, including leading, argumentative, and compound questions posed to Plaintiffs’ own witnesses.

Each of these arguments matches what I observed from the trial and, indeed, what the Scranton Times’ Terri Morgan-Besecker reported on the day she was there.  Plaintiffs’ attorney Leslie Lewis, of course, was previously sanctioned in this case for improper behavior, which lends further credibility to Cabot’s assertions. What was most important to me, though, was the inclusion of this point:

The Court erred in failing to adopt Cabot’s proposed supplemental jury instruction regarding the fact that property damage is not a compensable element of damages under nuisance law.

Readers following the case here at NaturalGasNOW will recall I raised this matter here, pointing out the following in regard to the failure of most media reporters to be there and observe what was actually happening at the trial:

They might have also, giving the jury some benefit of the doubt, asked how the jury was supposed to know it was not about property damages after it was about property damages if no one told them it was no longer the case. They might have asked, too, what exactly those damages were about if they weren’t about property damage, toxicity, medical claims, mental stress, emotional distress, replacing a water supply or punitive damages. Did the “inconvenience and discomfort,” of which a nuisance is made, amount to nothing more than Monica Ely’s “psychological” problem?

Yes, the judge said, early in the trial, it was about property damages and, then, later dispensed with that part of the claim without ever instructing the jury he had done so, leaving them with the unmistakable but clearly wrong impression they could assess property damages. If that’s not a basis for throwing out this insane Dimock verdict and/or ordering a new trial, then there’s something terribly wrong with our legal system. Sun Tzu (pictured above) famously said “Wheels of justice grind slow, but grind fine.” We’ll see.

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34 thoughts on “An Insane Dimock Verdict Gets Challenged

  1. Everyone Nationwide knows about Fracking / the Pennsylvania Oil fields / Colorado / California and the pollution of the ground water table / death of land / livestock / and humans.

    The Fraud is Cabot Gas & Oil / Chesapeake / and Associates.
    The ills effects from LPG / NPG tracking are irreversible / last 100’$ if not 1000’$ of years.

    The Money paid out is a pittance / even $8000 / acre.
    The fiscal rip off of the public goes well beyond monetary means.
    Your CASH is TRASH.
    Your Fraud / Bullying / Environmental Terrorism / WAR is being waged Nationwide.

    You exploits are covered in the Hollywood Movie / ” Promised Land ” starring Matt Damon.
    Funny how the Movie bases its main character on a theme played out in my cousin CRAIG STEVEN$ life ?
    Don’t you think ?

    Apparent you don’t ….think…at least not before you spew your toxic rhetoric and ARSENIC laced comments about my family / relatives / friends whose lives you have DE$TROYED for what was it / $50 per acre you offered his GRANDMOTHER on her DEATH BED in the HOSPITAL on her 115 acre farm ???

    I have read enough of your CRAP to know what TIME it is.
    You are the TERRORI$T$.
    You are the ENEMY
    You are the UNPATRIOTIC FACI$T$
    You are the BULLY COMMUNISTS

    What piece of SHALE ROCK / $LATE did you crawl out from under N….. and how much of a BRIBE did it co$t?

    HELL O
    WHOSE PAYROLL you Getting HIGH ON punk ?
    F… off.


    • Note to Readers: This vile comment had to be edited to remove various obscenities and a racial slur and I have barred the commenter for the future but I thought you should all know the type of hatred being spewed by some fractivists. Ed, who is from California (originally NY) and says he studied law, is apparently proud of this stuff as he cites his name and published a screenshot of his comment on his Facebook page (see: He lists his e-mail as

      Finally, notice Ed says he’s Craig Stevens’ cousin.

  2. We are use to the vile comments in public and on line by these types of uneducated and inbred activist who’s sole purpose is to provide shock value to one another. Careful, Tom, as I once was dragged down to their level and dropped my drawers halfway down my butt and told Willy Huston to KMA. I own that… but here is what they did with that moment of weakness.
    They lied and said a little league baseball team witnessed it and little children were exposed. There were no witnesses except Willy Huston and the whole act was about 2 seconds. Willy believing my butt was the story of the year and in 2010 he reposted the picture he got every time he can so if little children saw my moment of weakness you can thank Willy for it. I would do it again if the circumstances were the same. What willy didn’t tell anyone is that he was heckling me as I was going intp a bar/restaurant for lunch and he was accusing me of being a drunk much like Vera did to the non drinking Phelim McAleer in her rant. These people have no soul; they are the living dead looking for brains to eat as they already consumed their own

  3. Remove from consideration all gas wells drilled before August ’08, leave only the Gesford for consideration that was drilled after ’08.

    How convenient. Takes disingenuousness to new heights.

    • Those are the wells they’re claiming caused the problem. Now you want to bring in other wells. Speaks volumes.

        • No one prevented Ely from Ely from asserting other wells were the problem and your suggestion otherwise is disingenuous.

          • It’s in Cabot’s own complaint, for crying out loud:

            “Plaintiffs’ counsel made improper closing arguments, including (1) inviting speculation about facts not in evidence”

            Now, what facts could those possibly be, Tom?

            You are talking to someone who, while not a lawyer, has spent some time in courtrooms and knows how ugly courtrooms can be, and who nevertheless had the stamina to fight a case to SCOTUS and get a 8-1 decision in his favor, written bu Scalia.

            I rest my case.

          • Spare me the condescension, Michael. I’ve appeared in county, state and Federal courtrooms as an expert witness in dozens and dozens of cases over four decades and had my work cited favorably in various opinions (contrary to Paul Rubin, the Ely expert, whose work has been thrown out on numerous occasions) so don’t lecture me. Your argument about the Cabot statement is, as I noted earlier, disingenuous. You weren’t there to see Leslie Lewis in action. I was and yes it was ugly.

          • I did say that I rested my case, but I will add this: I’m also not getting paid by anybody for my viewpoint.

            And what is your expertise in, btw?

          • I have testified numerous times in zoning and land use matters, as well as in matters of demographic and economic research. I have appeared in court (not counting local zoning, administrative law judge hearings before state agencies or Congressional/State Legislative hearings) something on the order 50-60 times, including Federal Court.

          • “Spare me the condescension, Michael”

            btw, yes I wasn’t there (I have to work for a living), but I hear that Cabot is also complaining about Leslie’s alleged use of a “woe is me” strategy (David v Goliath).

  4. Tom Justice was serve with this verdict .People suffered long enough .Even if water pollution wasn’t proven it is a case of outright nuisance to those that lived there ….Stop crying about it .

  5. here is the DEP information on and the Gesford well sites have a total of 29 DEP Violations that I can find so far. and Gesford 3 which was mentioned in court, drilling started in May 2008….and has violations and had to be plugged , sealed with cement and shut down;
    Several other gas sites in the area were started, drilled in 2008 , in the late winter, spring, summer of 2008.
    Any of these could have contributed to the migration of methane and with the methane also increased levels of heavy metals. And dozens of DEP violations in these several gas sites near Ely and Hubert.
    That is why there is still a 9 sq. mile Moratorium in this area and no gas wells can be drilled or fracked until the high methane levels come back down to “background levels” according to DEP deputy sec. Scott Perry, which I’ve heard is around 7 mg/l . Cabot tests several homes in that area weekly and delivers water still to some and maintains expensive treatment systems in white and black-roofed sheds. I’ve seen some of the tests and methane levels are still very high at 80 mg/l , 60 mg/l ….
    Cabot is also held responsible for water impacts/changes/contamination in other townships in my county where Dimock is. These towns are Lenox, Springville, Bridgewater.
    It’s just not Dimock and other gas companies are found responsible by DEP for other townships like another section of Lenox and Chesapeake also found at fault by DEP.
    Come and see the homes, their water tests paid for by Cabot and some by DEP and see what their water is like and hear their stories directly and not second hand. can contact me.
    Now see if I get vilified and defamed for posting this.
    thanks, for reading this…
    lets keep to the facts…..

    • here is a list of heavily tax payer funded solar companies that failed in the USA and I can provide many more if you want
      Bankrupt, closed, acquired
      • Advent Solar (emitter wrap-through Si) acquired by Applied Materials
      • Applied Solar (solar roofing) acquired by Quercus Trust
      • OptiSolar (a-Si on a grand scale) closed
      • Ready Solar (PV installation) acquired by SunEdison
      • Solasta (nano-coaxial solar) closed
      • SV Solar (low-concentration PV) closed
      • Senergen (depositing silane onto free-form metallurgical-grade Si substrates) closed
      • Signet Solar (a-Si) bankrupt
      • Sunfilm (a-Si) bankrupt
      • Wakonda (GaAs) closed


      Bankrupt, closed
      • EPV Solar (a-Si) bankrupt
      • Evergreen (drawn Si) bankrupt
      • Solyndra (CIGS) bankrupt
      • SpectraWatt (c-Si) bankrupt
      • Stirling Energy Systems (dish engine) bankrupt

      Acquisition, sale
      • Ascent Solar (CIGS) acquired by TFG Radiant
      • Calyxo (CdTe) acquired by Solar Fields from Q.cells
      • HelioVolt (CIGS) acquired by Korea’s SK Innovation
      • National Semiconductor Solar Magic (panel optimizers) exited systems business
      • NetCrystal (silicon on flexible substrate) acquired by Solar Semiconductor
      • Soliant (CPV) acquired by Emcore


      Bankrupt, closed
      • Abound Solar (CdTe) bankrupt
      • AQT (CIGS) closed
      • Ampulse (thin silicon) closed
      • Arise Technology (PV modules) bankrupt
      • Azuray (microinverters) closed
      • BP (c-Si panels) exits solar business
      • Centrotherm (PV manufacturing equipment) bankrupt
      • CSG (c-Si on glass) closed by Suntech
      • Day4 Energy (cell interconnects) delisted from TSX exchange
      • ECD (a-Si) bankrupt
      • Energy Innovations (CPV) bankrupt
      • Flexcell (a-Si roll-roll BIPV) closed
      • GlobalWatt (solar) closed
      • GreenVolts (CPV) closed
      • Global Solar Energy (CIGS) closed
      • G24i (DSCs) bankrupt in 2012, re-emerged as G24i Power with new investors
      • Hoku (polysilicon) shut down its Idaho polysilicon production facility
      • Inventux (a-Si) bankrupt
      • Konarka (OSCs) bankrupt
      • Odersun (CIGS) bankrupt
      • Pramac (a-Si panels built with equipment from Oerlikon) insolvent
      • Pairan (Germany inverters) insolvent
      • Ralos (developer) bankrupt
      • REC Wafer (c-Si) bankrupt
      • Satcon (BoS) bankrupt
      • Schott (c-Si) exits c-Si business
      • Schuco (a-Si) shutting down its a-Si business
      • Sencera (a-Si) closed
      • Siliken (c-Si modules) closed
      • Skyline Solar (LCPV) closed
      • Siemens (CSP, inverters, BOS) divestment from solar
      • Solar Millennium (developer) insolvent
      • Solarhybrid (developer) insolvent
      • Sovello (Q.cells, Evergreen, REC JV) bankrupt
      • SolarDay (c-Si modules) insolvent
      • Solar Power Industries (PV modules) bankrupt
      • Soltecture (CIGS BIPV) bankrupt
      • Sun Concept (developer) bankrupt

      Acquisition, fire sale, restructuring
      • Oelmaier (Germany inverters) insolvent, bought by agricultural supplier Lehner Agrar
      • Q.Cells (c-Si) insolvent, acquired by South Korea’s Hanwha
      • Sharp (a-Si) backing away from a-Si, retiring 160 of its 320 megawatts in Japan
      • Solibro (CIGS) Q-Cells unit acquired by China’s Hanergy
      • Solon (c-Si) acquired by UAE’s Microsol
      • Scheuten Solar (BIPV) bankrupt, then acquired by Aikosolar
      • SolFocus (CPV) layoffs, restructuring for sale
      • Sunways (c-Si, inverters) bought by LDK, restructuring to focus on BIPV and storage


      Bankrupt, closed
      • Bosch (c-Si PV module) exits module business
      • Concentrator Optics (CPV) bankrupt
      • Suntech Wuxi (c-Si) bankrupt

      Acquisition, sale, restructuring
      • Diehl (Germany inverters) inverter division sold to PE firm mutares AG
      • ISET (CIGS) moving into “microsolar”
      • MiaSolé (CIGS) acquired by China’s Hanergy
      • Nanosolar (CIGS) restructuring for sale
      • NuvoSun (CIGS) acquired by Dow
      • Twin Creeks (kerfless Si) acquired by GT Advanced Technology
      • Wuerth Solar (installer) business turned over to BayWa

      • How many O&G co’s have gone belly up in the last year???Just trying to rationalize your position for a industrial operation done to close to our homes !

      • That’s only part of the solar story, environmental impacts of Cuomo’s solar fields in New York are being completely ignored, there must be an all out call for an environmental review of all solar fields in New York. The solar fields will be from 30 to 100 acres in size, the entire field will be covered in solar panels, and in order to prevent the natural grasses and trees seedling from taking sprout the fields will be first sprayed with thousands of pounds of herbicides (grass and tree killer) and pesticides (bee, bird and butterfly killer), these deadly poisons will be applied multiple times every single year under the solar panels to prevent weed growth and insect , leaving the soil highly contaminated for decades to come, these poisons are also being applied ABOVE the water table and certainly pollute the ground water not just under the solar fields but also the surrounding areas, you dont have to take my word for this just open your eyes the evidence of this pollution is all over the world and easily located on the web, if you dare to open your eyes and minds and take a look for example the Ivanpah solar farm is a giant solar farm located in California when they did there initial start up and turned it on the noticed small puffs of smoke above the solar panels, fearing some type of malfunction investigation showed it was only the smoke coming from fried meadow birds flying over the solar farm, the temperature above the solar panels reached 1000 degrees and without a bit of hesitation or any type of environmental review it was turned back on and fried 3500 birds in its first year alone, they gave no count for the millions of honey bees, butterflies and any of the hundreds of types of insects killed by the solar heat rays, didn’t matter that honey bees are in a serious decline across the entire nation, didn’t mater that bees, birds and insects pollinate our entire vegetable and fruit food crop and without them we would have an agricultural disaster and famine that would devastate mankind and the entire planet, crop pollination has already experienced major problems in recent years with farmers having to bring in bees and insects to pollinate crops across the united states, but none cared because we were going “green” with solar, New York’s Apple and fruit orchards, grape vineyards, corn fields, vegetables fields , clean drinking water, rivers and lakes are all at huge risk from these largely unregulated solar fields, but who cares we can have our food and water shipped in on barges and jumbo jets from China, Saudi Arabia and south America, like we do almost everything else, who needs fresh water and food when we’ve gone “green” in New York with solar.
        I could go on about the millions of trees that will be cut to run the power lines to get the power from these solar fields to the intercity ghettos, the huge toxic electrical transformer stations along the power line route needed to keep voltage high in the wires as it goes to the cities, the tons of herbicides used to keep the power lines that run for hundreds of miles foliage free and the countless landowners who will be forced through eminent domain to have these toxic power lines across there lands, but I have to go eat my caned Chinese vegetables before the 5 year use by date expires.

        Where there was once a beautiful field of clover full of honey bees, meadow birds (supposedly a protected bird) rabbits, deer and butterflies there will a toxic brown surface unsuitable for any wildlife and unsuitable for any crop whether it be for humans or livestock. Where there once was a field of beauty and a perfect place for a family picnic and flower picking there will be a toxic brown field so polluted any respectful bird wouldn’t be caught dead in it, I wonder if Cuomo and that dim wit Zucker will let his kids play on it.
        I sure won’t my kids anywhere near it.
        Signed, Gone Green in New York with deadly toxic solar.
        For some of the dangers of solar you can look

    • Vera your link goes to a page where the well reports ARE FOR SALE and have to be PAID FOR TO BE READ, your credibility in my book is zero and as to “keeping to the facts” your record on keeping to the facts is just as lousy as your link to the well reports FOR SALE.
      Anyone with any sense knows you can get those reports for free, maybe you should try your sales pitch on some of those anti frackers as they seem to gullible enough to believe anything.
      Your a phony.
      Ps, I heard you seen Elvis at one of those well pads to and I bet you got an autograph and photo to prove it and of course you would let me view it if I paid you a $dollar$
      You’ve got more baloney then Oscar Myer

      • Sorry, Daniel;

        didn’t realize that; it’s only $20. a year for this site and you can access lots of history of all the gas wells in our county and other Pa. counties.
        I’ll look for a free version of the violations and post that when I get a chance.

        • here is a link showing the list of DEP Violations for Dimock from Cabot from 2007 till now; 281 Violations; just for Dimock; here is the free link; from DEP site;

          And here is link for spud / drill dates for Cabot gas wells in Dimock by 10/1/2008. 13 gas wells listed, in and around the Dimock families who noticed their water changing and then complained to the DEP and Cabot…We have over a dozen families complaining during this time besides Scot Ely and Ray Hubert.

          And the DEP link for all DEP Violations from 2007 to 10/1/2008 are 43 DEP Violations by Cabot in Dimock in the wells surrounding all these families with complaints about water changes:

          Cabot is also implicated in another township , Lenox , in my county, with impacting the water wells of several families and Cabot recently lost in court when one of the families sued them , Chichura family of Lenox. This one has not been reported by the media. DEP has found Cabot liable for these water wells , also. Cabot has been implicated in water well impacts from their gas drilling in other towns also in my county, like Springville, Bridgewater.
          Other gas companies have been implicated by DEP also, besides Cabot….
          If you want this info, you can contact me or look it up on the DEP site or contact DEP with a Right to Know Request.

  6. Tom- the only reason udogma comments (anonymously) on your blog is to sanctimoniously condescend, lecture, and gloat. he’s just a pseudo-intellectual troll, reveling in the insanity that is corrupt NY energy politics and cronyism- that are now a litmus test for being a Democrat.

    all NIMBYs are fossil fuel consuming polluters. it’s a cult of hypocrisy. the lead-off post above by one Edward C is actually more indicative of mental illness… incredibly, these are the useful idiots who screwed us.

    Cuomo obliterated landowner rights on the way to his fake green utopia.

    • Unreceiveddogma is not anonymous. Tom had referred to me by both my first and last names many times. You haven’t paid enough attention.

      I walk my talk: I get my power from wind, and rely as much as possible on mass transit, a bicycle or my feet to get around.

      As for Edward C, I would not generalize. It’s like pointing to Tom’s rants and saying “look at how those rig-huggers think! Why bother!”

      Sorry, Tom, couldn’t resist. 😉

      • I am confused, please help me understand, all parts of windmills and solar panels are made from and with the use of fossil fuels, all metals are smelted with coal and natural gas, not wind and solar power, all plastic used in wind and solar panels are petroleum or ethane based, all transmission lines for solar and wind are manufactured with the use of fossil fuels, mass transits run on electric made by burning coal or natural gas and all parts of any mass transit system are made with the use of fossil fuels, your bicycle is made from metal processed by smelting ore with natural gas or coal, all plastics and rubber on that bike are petroleum based, do you know the chemicals that go into making rubber or plastic for your bike, do you know what your shoes are made of, please please tell me how you “walk your talk” everything you mention is derived and built with the use of fossil fuels, you are part of the problem Unreceiveddogma, not part of the solution.
        Please list all the “green ” parts of a wind mills, a solar panel, a bicycle, your walking shoes. Please list all the factories that use wind and solar to build the products you think are so “green”, Please list all “green ‘ items in your home that were built with and manufactured with ” green energy” and don’t contain any plastic or metals, I doubt it will be a very long list.
        Wake up, there would be no such thing as solar or wind without fossil fuels.
        Please don’t type your response on a key board made of plastic (ethane), use your “green” keyboard and include a picture from your “green” camera, I would love to see it.


        • The misleading assumption about revolutions is that they happen overnight. They don’t: it takes commitment to a point of view and to a direction that establishes itself over time.

          Similarly, the assumptions about democratic socialism are wrong: conservatives and liberals are fond of saying that “socialism has failed everywhere it’s been tried” and then trot out examples from Russia to China or Cuba. All that points to is a failure of imagination: just because it hasn’t worked to date (those countries are not socialist, btw), it doesn’t mean some new form of socialism will evolve that will work in the future. Karl Marx himself said that a mature socialism that could succeed would only be able to evolve out of the most advanced and educated but decaying capitalist state. That description sounds a lot like the U.S. today.

          As for the rest of your comment, they don’t warrant consideration, never mind a reply.

  7. Why are you Slandering / Liable my NAME ? I unlike my cousin don’t live in Dimock / did not get paid a bribe / did not sign a non disclosure agreement / do not have a GAG order / TOM Sheep$toner /// I will drag CABOT et all into FEDERAL COURT for Liable / Slander / Defamation of Material Witness /// You talk a lot is SHEEP $HIT Mr. $heep $toner @ $ex / $ex / $ex

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