Silt Mesa family sues Antero, 2 other drilling firms
Law firms from Aspen and New York City filed Thursday the first of what is expected to be several lawsuits against natural gas drilling companies operating in Garfield County.
The lawsuit, filed in Denver District Court, claims Denver-based Antero Resources Corp. and two other drilling companies caused more than $100,000 in damages to a Silt Mesa family.
Attorneys Cory Zurbuch with the Aspen law firm of Thomas Genshaft and Marc Jay Bern with the New York City firm of Napoli Bern Ripka & Associates filed the suit on behalf of William and Beth Strudley and their two sons.
The two attorneys said the family experienced numerous health problems and property loss, but their biggest concern is from medical problems they might develop later from the unknown hydraulic fracturing fluids the drillers use.
Zurbuch said that not knowing is why one of the suit’s five claims asks for the creation of a medical-monitoring trust fund for the family.
“That’s one of the biggest problems is we don’t know what’s in the fracking fluids, we don’t know what chemicals they are being exposed to, and that’s one of the challenges we’re going to have to overcome,” he said.
Al Schopp, vice president of finance and administration for Antero, said he had not seen the lawsuit and likely wouldn’t comment on it anyway.
Bern said the lawsuit isn’t seeking to block drilling, but subsequent ones might. Bern wouldn’t say how many more lawsuits would be filed.
The lawsuit alleges Antero and two drilling companies, Calfrac Well Services and Frontier Drilling, violated Colorado laws by allowing chemicals to be released into the air and groundwater supply.
“Defendants acts and omissions caused hydrogen sulfide, hexane, n-helptane, toluene, propane, isobutene, n-butane, isopentane, n-pentane and other toxic hydrocarbons and combustible gases to enter into and contaminate the plaintiffs’ air and water,” the lawsuit alleges. “Plaintiffs were forced to flee and abandon their home because of toxic and hazardous contamination caused by defendants.”
The lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages for medical bills and the loss of the use of their property.