Rubin and Ingraffea Play Role in Dimock Verdict Overturn

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


The Dimock verdict now having been overturned, it’s worth looking how fractivist experts did in the eyes of the judge. They didn’t impress him much at all.

Yesterday afternoon came the great news that the Dimock verdict had been overturned by Judge Carlson, the man who heard the entire case. For the record, Carlson not only but bent over backwards to accord the plaintiffs’ counsel respect they refused to give others, but he also stood on his tiptoes, stretched his arms and legs as far as they would go and offered to do somersaults to give the plaintiffs the opportunity to make their case.

Anyone who was there for any part of the trial could see that. Indeed, my view is Judge Carlson went too far in tolerating the plaintiffs’ counsel tactics and wasn’t explicit enough with the jury when he gave final instructions. He also allowed in very speculative expert witness testimony by the plaintiffs though he was anything but impressed by it.

Paul Rubin and Tony Ingraffea are the two experts to whom I’m referring. I covered their testimony last year in posts herehere and here. Rubin, whose expert witness testimony has been rejected by court after court over the years, tried to pretend he wasn’t an activist, despite evidence like this the rest of us possessed from simply accessing social media.

Dimock Verdict

Paul Rubin appearing at fractivist pony show with the Sautners and wearing an anti-fracking button several years before Dimock trial at which he appeared as “scientist”

How did Rubin do in the eyes of the judge (emphasis added)?

Even before trial, when the Court substantially curtailed the scope of Mr. Rubin’s testimony in its Daubert opinion, the Court noted the inescapable conclusion that “much of Mr. Rubin’s proffered testimony is long on conjecture and speculation and short on testing and analysis.” In so ruling, the Court found that Rubin “has insufficient basis to render an opinion regarding the actual migration of groundwater from Cabot’s wells to the plaintiffs’ aquifers” and, therefore, precluded him from testifying at trial about “the existence of any specific pathways between Cabot’s wells and the plaintiffs’ water supplies for the simple reason that he did not do any testing that could confirm such a subsurface connection.”

At trial, Rubin conceded on cross that he had not done any testing or other analysis that could have permitted him to opine to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty that there was a specific joint, set, fault or fracture through which any chemical or substance could travel to the plaintiffs’ two wells. Instead, Rubin could only say he made some observations of geological faulting by visiting a quarry more than half a mile from the plaintiffs’ wells. Rubin admitted that he did not know exactly which way the faults traveled, and his speculative opinion that the faults could have extended to the plaintiffs’ property was weakened by the fact that he had never personally seen a fault extend more than 2,000 feet, and because he did not ever examine the geology on the plaintiffs’ property.

Lastly, Rubin never performed any testing of the Huberts’ water, which causes his opinion to be especially limited with respect to their claims. Any probative value of Mr. Rubin’s testimony was limited – both by his own admission and by the limitations that had been placed on his area of expertise – to general observations regarding the geological features in the area that may be relevant to underground migration of water.

The limited, general and highly inferential testimony offered by Mr. Rubin was sharply contrasted with that offered by Dr. Tarek Saba, who opined based upon substantial scientific testimony that no pathway from a single source impacting the plaintiffs’ wells, and because the Ely and Hubert wells were not in communication with one another based upon information gleaned from chemical analysis of those wells. Thus, in contrast to Rubin’s acknowledgment that he had not identified any one pathway between the Gesford pad and the wells, Dr. Saba testified without contradiction that no pathway even existed.

The stark contrast between the testimony of these experts on this single issue – let alone Dr. Saba’s extensive testimony regarding the chemical composition of the plaintiffs’ water wells, and the geological features that could have impacted water flow to those wells, severely undermines the Court’s confidence in this proof as support for the conclusion reached by the jury.

Rubin’s performance in the Dimock trial had an eerily familiar sound to what he did in the Anschutz case where that court concluded his “speculation [was] not sufficient to establish causation” and the Kiskadden case where another court determined “his ‘shotgun’ approach to what caused the contamination was not persuasive based on the evidence.”

Dimock verdict

Tony Ingraffea (pictured above basking in the glow of celebrity) did little better and perhaps a little worse in that he relied upon Paul Rubin.

Dr. Ingraffea’s opinion, though less limited in scope than Rubin’s, also suffered from some glaring weaknesses, chief among them that some aspects of it were simply speculative – and Dr. Ingraffea admitted as much. Dr. Ingraffea’s theory of how the plaintiffs’ water wells were impacted was that gas was coming from activities initiated on the 3S well by it going through the 1,500 foot gas show – then moving over to the Gesford 3/9DD well bore, and somehow migrating up that well bore before entering an aquifer that took it to the plaintiffs’ wells. This theory is difficult enough to believe on its own, but especially so when considered against evidence which strongly suggested these water wells were not fed by a single source, and were not even connected to one another. Dr. Ingraffea conceded that this multi-part theory was based substantially upon speculation, and that he had no proof to support it.

Dr. Ingraffea’s testimony was also glaringly limited with respect to causation because he was not qualified to testify about hydrology or hydrogeology, and he acknowledged that it would take an expert in these fields to explain the flow of gas into a water supply:

“I can explain why a defective well might cause previously ensconced hydrocarbon fluids to be available for flow in an underground aquifer. It is the hydrologist’s job to then determine whether underground flow of that aquifer in space and time could explain how these now liberated fluids could get into the water supply at the point of the water wells. That’s the picture. It takes team work to do this.”

In other words, Dr. Ingraffea’s testimony relied upon the testimony of another expert – presumably Paul Rubin – to connect his theory of negligence to the alleged contamination of the plaintiffs’ wells. As noted, however, the evidence on this score was badly deficient, and thus further renders Dr. Ingraffea’s testimony to be of marginal value. There was simply an analytical gap between the opinions offered by these experts that the plaintiffs never fully connected at trial. Instead, the plaintiff’s theory of their case left the jury to speculate regarding a possible connection between allegedly negligent drilling activity at the Gesford pads, the resultant flow of hydrocarbons through the earth as a result of that drilling into unidentified underground pathways, and the delivery of those hydrocarbons along those pathways as contaminants to the plaintiffs’ water supplies.

There you have it; two Rodney Dangerfield fractivist experts who get tons of press but couldn’t make the case that needed to be made to prove their client’s case. One relied upon the other and that one relying upon unsupervised water tests conducted by one of the plaintiffs himself. Why were we al put through this? Who paid these experts? And, why? These are the questions that now need to be answered.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

36 thoughts on “Rubin and Ingraffea Play Role in Dimock Verdict Overturn

  1. Probably the most irrational conclusion to come to when looking at the tons of paperwork provided on the formerly proposed port Ambrose lng import project was that it was secretly an export project. Antifracking activists not only came to this conclusion (some, others knowingly broadcast this falsehood in order to get more people to oppose fracking or to simply stop this project they were against) they managed to get journalists in more than one state to write this and many people to believe them.

    People can be led to believe things that are not true and this subject is quite complex so it matters where they get their information from and then it also matters how soberly they come to a decision about it. At least that’s what I think.

    There are people who know think the federal energy regulatory commission is a rogue agency and an enemy of the people. Others who think things about dakota pipeline that are entirely false. The confusion surrounding the subject of natural gas, fracking and pipelines is a societal problem that has been escalating for far too long.

      • Uh huh. What’s the title of the blog post Donald? It’s about antifracking activists isn’t it? Ingraffea being one? What kind of testimony did he give? What did the jury decide?

  2. You ask who paid for the expert witnesses. Check out this video of Ely begging for donations and the link to the donation website.

    Published on Jun 28, 2014

    Scott Ely of Dimock, Pa., asking for some funds for his court case to pay for an expert witness and suing Cabot Oil and Gas for their damage of his water and his area and going to federal court and asking for a jury trial. The world needs to know of the damages by the Gas Industry on communities in Pa. and around the US. He has a family of three children and is a former gas worker and became a whistleblower and lost his job. Donate if you can to help him and others.

    • I agree!!! Unfortunately, Scott Ely does not have billions of dollars to fight Cabot, throw obscene amounts of money at politicians, and pay scientists to manipulate the facts!!!!! It is not a level playing field!! The facts are out about fracking and everyone knows it. Just because the multi billion dollar gas companies SAY IT ISN’T SO DOES NOT MEAN IT IS TRUE!!
      Do the Gas companies go around installing methane meters in your house and set up water buffalos for you out of the goodness of their hearts? This is happening all over the world! Until it happens to you I would hope people would have a little compassion.

      • Water buffaloes are the SOP whenever an accusation is made – has nothing to do with what really happened.

        • It has every thing to do with what is happening!! It is true that in Pa there is naturally occuring methane in the ground but only in very low levels. Not ever such high levels that your well needs to be disconnected so your house does not explode, and not such high levels that you can no longer drink your water. This is where the water buffaloes come in. Once the water aquifer is contaminated you and your neighbors if you are lucky now have to rely on water buffaloes. My water was pristine before Cabot came to town.The cat is out of the bag on gas well drilling.,Would you give up your clean drinking water,for money? And would you risk your health and your kids health for money? There is no such thing as safe fracking and every one knows it.;

          • Chris, where were you when experts were needed? How come well-funded plaintiffs who could marshal limitless attention and celebrity sympathy for their accusations were unable to find experts to investigate and testify? How is it that you know better than the PA DEP and the EPA?

  3. Cabot and everyone who is affected by the moratorium should sue Ely and everyone connected to this case including Rubin and Ingraffea for posing as “experts” and Josh Fox and Vera for making the videos showing false information. All this BS has caused serious financial harm to Cabot and the landowners who could lease their land. Also the moratorium should be dropped now.

    • One must ask why there is a Moratorium in the first place, I for one am glad it’s still there and I hope it stays there forever

    • Will you feel the same way when your water is contaminated, your property has been destroyed by a multi billion dollar industry that employs psy op techniques to quietly dismantle communities, and families? When you have money but no water will you feel the same way? The Gas Companies never admit guilt, why do you think they install methane meters in your kitchen to warn you if your house is going to explode?, and deliver water every day, and install water buffalos? Out of the goodness of their hearts? Really wake up!!! The facts are in,the cat is out of the bag!!!! THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS SAFE FRACKING AND EVERYONE KNOWS IT!!!!

      • You assume the water is destroyed when there is no proof of that and you assume Cabot is guilty when there is no proof. This is the problem.

        • I am not assuming anything!! I am not living in Dimock and I am living It!!!! This is the biggest assault on private property rights ever!!! If you want proof you are more then welcome to come to my home to see first hand. I have all the proof in the world and so do my neighbors. This is all about the money!!! The Gas companies generate billions of dollars and that is why their lobbyists have thrown so much money at washington, and state,representitives.obscene amounts of money. If fracking is so safe why do they need to be exempt from the clean water act? And why do they need to be exempt from the clean air act? Why do they fight so hard to stay unregulated? Why do they spend millions of dollars campaigning to try to convince every one that this is a clean energy? And why are American citizens not seeing any financial benefit fhat they promised every one? Please, I beg you look at the facts.THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS SAFE FRACKING! AND EVERY ONE KNOWS IT. Tom you seem reasonably intelligent so here are a few facts for you. One in twenty concrete casings around the well fail immediately,50 percent of casings ,fail within 30 years, The gas companies are proposing to put up 18,000 wells along the Deleware WaterGAP where 15 million peoplle get their drinking water. Is it worth risking for money? I know I do not have enough money to buy my own water interests dams etc, do you? Well Politicians do and big multi conglomerates do.And they have been quietly doing so for years . People need to try to reason things out on their own and not listen to a bunch of propaganda.

          • You every single fact wrong, Chris. All you’re doing is spewing nonsensical talking points, that have long since been debunked. Anytime you have to say “everyone knows it” you are in over your head and you know it.

        • If my points are so nonsensical as you say, why is your only argument consistently that I am wrong? I gave you all the proven facts and you know it! And out of all the scientifically proven facts by Nobel prize winning scientists and some of the greatest minds in our country,, you tell me I am wrong. Next you will want me to believe the Gas companies new campaign that fracking is good for the environment when methane is a hotter gas then carbon dioxide. Why does New York State and many other states ( now that the proven facts are in, not just an argument consistently that I am wrong)have a moratorium against fracking?Because it is so safe?And now that it has been scientifically proven that fracking causes every thing from contaminated water, to serious health problems from carcinogenic fracking chemicals in your body tissues to brain tumors to earthquakes(earthquakes is why Pittsburgh is not fracking now ) Oklahoma went from 5 earthquakes a year then fracking started and now they have 5,000.a year.
          This is not just a Dimock problem people are crying out all over the land. And if fracking does not cause health problems why is it that the very few times gas companies like Cabot do settle with people they have everyone sign a gag order that they will never talk about it? Is this because fracking is so safe?Every one does know that there is no such thing as safe fracking except a very small group of people and that is why I keep saying it.

    • Will you feel the same way when it happens to you? And you lose your home, and no longer have clean water? Have a little compassion for your fellow human beings.

        • Well Tom, you must have enough money to move when your water gets contaminated and you can no longer sell your home. I hope every dollar you get from the gas companies you realize came from people who lost their clean water, their property, their health, and contributed to the destruction of the envirornment,When I meet my maker I can say I devoted my life to helping people. What are you going to say?

  4. “It ain’t over till the fat lady sings “as Yogi would say. Sensibly the judge wants the 3 parties to work a deal but if they cannot, there will be a new trial. As greedy as the two plaintiffs seem to be, it will probably go to trial and waste more taxpayer money.

  5. The date of the Scranton Times’ article about it is April 1st, which makes it fake news as far as I’m concerned. Almost as easily reversible as contracts that I’ve signed on April 1st. Not that I’d put such a move past a Pee-Wee-Herman-ilk (in both mannerisms and appearance) judge who’s simply trying to impress tRump so he can keep his job.

  6. I hope Cabot and any other entity that has suffered damages to their reputations will take an informed look at the possibility of suing the various parties who were unable to prove their cases nor establish a reasonable basis for their plaintiff actions. Only when reckless actions are punished sufficiently in countersuits will these irresponsible activities stop. The judge’s decision may serve as exhibit A should Cabot decide to sue for libel, slander and malicious prosecution. Proper discovery may yield substantially more evidence of deliberate misdeeds. Bear in mind the communications between the “expert witnesses” and the plaintiffs could be subject to discovery as well as the communications between the plaintiffs and their supporters.

  7. Cabot has the worst reputation ever!! I do not think it is possible for their reputation to be hurt any more. I think you should at least look at how many violations Cabot has, You obviously do not know the facts. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS SAFE FRACKING. READ MY COMMENTS ABOVE AND MAYBE YOU WILL LEARN SOMETHING BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE FOR YOU.

  8. Pingback: StateImpactPA Is A Fractivist Freak ShowNatural Gas Now

  9. Unfortunately James, The Gas Companies strategy is to spend millions of dollars in advertising to convince people that natural gas drilling is a clean energy when there is not one thing clean about it. They feel if they just keep pummeling this point over and over people will believe it. And it is somewhat effective on people who do not know the facts and do not research things on their own. I really hope for you James that you will check things out for yourself instead of relying on others. If you still have any doubts you are welcome to come to my home to check out the contaminated water,the destruction of my property etc. Please, people need to start reasoning things out on their own instead of listening to a bunch of propaganda.EVERY ONE KNOWS THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS SAFE FRACKING!!!!

  10. Pingback: The "Tragic" Performances That Led to the Dimock VerdictNatural Gas Now

  11. Taking a deep breath after reading these comments… they reminds me of the movie “THE JERK” you know this is shi….and this is shynola

  12. Pingback: PA Supreme Court Rejects Range Resources Well Contamination Case | Ohio Valley Corporate Accommodations

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *