Heavy Handed Tactics in a Pittsburgh Area Drilling Case: Why Can’t Gas Companies Be Fair?

Heavy Handed Tactics in a Pittsburgh Area Drilling Case: Why Can’t Gas Companies Be Fair?

Chris and Stephanie Hallowich owned a 10 acre farm in Washington County, Pennsylvania where they were raising their two young children in a quiet, idyllic Jay Stoneking portrait head and shoulders.jpgenvironment. However, all of that changed when Range Resources began massive gas drilling operations next to their farm, including four gas wells, gas compressor stations, and a water impoundment covering three acres. The effects of these operations on Chris, Stephanie and their little ones were immediate and devastating. Airborne contaminants caused a variety of ailments including burning eyes, sore throats, earaches, and headaches. More than that, the water supply was contaminated and their beloved farm devalued.

Right away Chris and Stephanie took the offensive, hired a lawyer, and sued Range. Eventually, a settlement was reached. The settlement was made confidential--meaning that Chris and Stephanie could not disclose the terms of the settlement, or make any disparaging remarks regarding Range or gas drilling generally. Range insisted on including this confidentiality agreement as a part of the settlement. Confidentiality agreements are not unusual when contentious or high-profile litigation is settled. But it was highly unusual was for Range to argue that its confidentiality agreement also applied to the children. Essentially, Range took the position that the two children were under a lifetime ban that would prevent them from ever saying anything critical regarding the gas drilling business. Unfortunately, Range presented this as a take-it-or-leave-it proposition. For the welfare of their family, Chris and Stephanie took it.

All of this would have remained under wraps if a Pittsburgh newspaper hadn't PPGstafferblogrange.jpgbegun digging. The newspaper obtained a transcript of the settlement hearing and brought Range's heavy handed tactics into the light.

Not surprisingly, people were outraged by Range's over-the-top attempts to silence critics--even future critics. Range went into defense mode, claiming that it never intended for the confidentiality agreement to apply to the children. Of course, the agreement itself and Range's attorney at the hearing clearly said otherwise. Range's attempt to "explain away" what it did only added to the outrage.

I wish I could end this story on a happy note. But I can't. The truth is that Range's conduct is symptomatic of a larger problem: corporate greed and irresponsibility. Let's not kid ourselves. Gas drillers are engaging in the same kind of heavy handedness right here in West Virginia. We must be vigilant. We must make sure that gas drillers operating in West Virginia are being fair, honest and upfront, both in their private dealings and in their drilling operations.

If you think you may be the victim of heavy handed tactics by a gas driller, I urge you to contact our law firm. We have the knowledge and experience to protect your rights and to see that justice is done.

The results in a legal case depend on a variety of factors, many of which are unique to each case. Prior results by this firm or any other do not guarantee future results. Case results presented here are illustrations of the type of work done by Bordas & Bordas and not a guarantee that any prospective case will yield any particular amount.