OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma lawsuit accusing an oil company of being responsible for damage caused by earthquakes in 2011 has gained class-action status and will go to trial.
A judge ruled Friday that the class includes citizens with property in nine central Oklahoma counties that were damaged by the earthquakes near Prague, the Oklahoman reported .
“It’s very important to the class members and to my clients, and it allows the process to be as efficient as possible,” said Scott Poynter, the attorney representing the affected home and business owners.
The lawsuit alleges that New Dominion LLC’s wastewater disposal operations caused a trio of earthquakes in November 2011. The quakes included a magnitude 5.7, which was the strongest quake in recorded state history until a magnitude 5.8 near Pawnee in 2016.
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Scientists say the threshold for damage usually starts at 4.0.
The trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 10. Class members can file claims with the court if the lawsuit is successful.
“We intend to prove in September the science behind induced seismicity and how these quakes in 2011 were caused by New Dominion’s operations,” Poynter said. “That decision will be binding on all participants.”
It’s unclear specifically how many people qualify as class members, but Poynter said the Federal Emergency Management Administration inspected about 400 homes at the time, and that some business owners received low-interest disaster loans to help pay for post-quake repairs.
New Dominion Vice President Fred Buxton declined to comment Monday citing pending litigation.
Several other earthquake-related lawsuits are pending throughout Oklahoma.
The Pawnee Nation filed its lawsuit in federal court last week, alleging $400,000 in damage from the Pawnee earthquake. A hearing for that lawsuit is scheduled for August.
Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com