A Pennsylvania couple shares with reporters that they each began suffering with chronic headaches, sore throats and burning eyes ever since hydraulic fracturing began in their town. Despite the promises made to the communities by fracking companies that there are no safety or health hazards, the people in the surrounding communities beg to differ. The industry uses pressurized water and chemical substances to drill underground for gas and oil all over the country. While not all things done in "secret" represent bad or dishonest practices, this may have been the case for the Hallowich family. C and S sought to sue the Range Resources Corp (RRC) for their health problems and rather than going to court, the company promised to grant them a significant settlement of $750,000 on one condition—that they not tell anyone.
This was no standalone instance, according to a number of families from all over the country, drilling companies have been seeking silence the victims of fracking by allowing them hearty compensation as long as they stay quiet about their complaints and concerns. Companies in Texas, Arkansas, Wyoming, Pennsylvania and others have agreed even to cash payouts or property buyouts for these families who were complaining about fracking in their homes. These lawsuits included health problems and water contamination cases among other safety and health violation concerns.
What makes these acts so deceptive is the fact that when a family agrees to keep quiet about the settlement and allows for a cash payout or property buyout, the company is able to avoid the legal process of regulators checking up on their practices, and policy makers or health researchers from looking into their company. By the families being forced to stay quiet, it makes it harder for others to prove that anyone else suffered from contaminated waters if there are no legal documents drafted in the first place.
Families who agreed to keep their mouths shut were forced to sign an affidavit with the drilling companies which essentially claimed that they were legally agreeing that their health problems could not be linked by medical evidence to the fracking by the company. This has placed many families in a legal dilemma as they are bound their previous contracts to not sue the companies in the future. Many of these families have realized the error on their ways and have since contacted attorneys to continue their fight against the fracking industry that is ruining their family's lives.
Are you a victim of the dangers of hydraulic fracturing in your hometown? Have you or your loved ones been experiencing devastating health concerns that you believe are linked to water contamination? If so, please contact our team at Arnold & Itkin LLP today for the aggressive Houston personal injury attorney you need fighting on your behalf.