Five Scotland families and individuals as well as three Searcy families have sued a natural gas company for personal injuries they attribute to its fracking operations.
The Scotland families involved in the lawsuit against DeSoto Gathering Co. are: Clifford and Loveta Pruitt, 130 Flora Road; Allan and Tammy Peterson, 13150 Highway 95 West; Jeffrey and Kimberly Wyborny, 13009 Highway 95 West; Virginia Mills, 148 Flora Road; and Molly O. Stone, 117 Flora Road. The Scotland CPF-2 compressor station is located at 12924 highway 95 West.
The complaint states that the operation emits half a pound of toxic emissions per minute, 24 hours a day, year round and has caused them personal injuries. The suit does not seek recovery for injury to property.
DeSoto Gathering is a subsidiary of Southwestern Energy Co.
The lawsuit, filed April 24, 2014, in Circuit Court, comes on the heels of a $3 million jury award to a Texas family for fracking there, in what is believed to be the first jury award of its kind.
The plaintiffs "live adjacent to natural gas compressor and transmission stations" DeSoto operates, specifically, the Midge CPF-2 station in Pangburn and the Scotland CPF-2 station in Scotland, Ark.
The Scotland 2 compressor station operation involves five massive compressor units along with two glycol dehydration units and numberous exhaust and flare pipes, according to the lawsuit.
"The entire process of purifying, compressing and transmitting shale gas through gas transmission pipelines constitutes an industrial development, which is incompatible with residential living," the complaint states. "The compressor units are injuriously loud and produce harmful levels of noise and toxic emissions. The noise produced by these compressor units is so loud that persons living next to those industrial facilities are harmed and injured by the noise, vibration, odor and pollution."
The complaint continues: "The compressor stations emit huge amounts of methane and hydrogen sulfide, as well as other flammable, malodorous and noxious gases, chemicals and compounds, directly into the air. These substances are emitted are then allowed to flow freely off of the compressor station property and into the surrounding air and atmosphere."
The plaintiff families say they bought and lived in their homes for many years before DeSoto built the compression stations. What’s more, they say, "Employees of the Defendant are aware that compressor stations like Scotland 2 have exploded and caught fire, causing injuries and deaths in the immediate vicinity of the compressor stations.
"The plaintiffs’ homes are within the blast/impact zone of the Midge 2 compressor station, the area which is likely to be impacted in the event the massive amounts of explosive natural gas or other flammable hydrocarbons on-site were to explode or catch fire."
They claim the compressors run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, year round, which cause damages, including "discomfort damages" to the plaintiffs.
The lawsuit also states that after being made aware of the plaintiffs’ complaint that DeSoto chose to enlarge the station by adding compressors and equipment, causing a further increase in the amount of vibration, noise pollution and noxious emissions.
The lawsuit seeks relief for liability, negligence, discomfort damages and personal injuries. Each of the Scotland plaintiffs is seeking $3 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages.
Each Scotland plaintiff demands $3 million in compensatory damages and $12 million in punitive damages.
One of the Searcy plaintiffs, Cary and Brenda Shirley, are seeking $8 million in compensatory damages and $12 million in punitive damages. The other Search plaintiffs are Richard and Barbara Ramsey and Virgie Parrott.
They are represented by Deal, Cooper & Holton, PLLC, of Memphis.