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Okla. Woman Sues, Alleging Fracking-Related Earthquake Injury

By Daniel Taylor, Esq. on September 05, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

An Oklahoma woman who claims that nearby fracking operations caused an earthquake in which she was injured has filed a lawsuit against two energy companies.

Sandra Ladra was watching a college football game at home in 2011 when a magnitude 5.7 earthquake struck, reports Oklahoma City's KFOR-TV. The earthquake dislodged rocks from Ladra's chimney which she claims struck her in the legs, causing injuries to both her legs and knees which her lawyer says will require surgery.

How does Ladra plan on pinning responsibility for her injuries on the defendants, New Dominion LLC and Spess Oil Company?

Earthquakes Reportedly Caused by Wastewater Injection

Ladra is claiming that the earthquake that caused her injury was itself caused by the injection of wastewater created during the fracking process. Her lawsuit claims this wastewater injection shifted faults lines causing earthquakes like the one that struck her home.

Fracking refers to the process of extracting oil and natural gas from the ground by using hydraulic fracturing. The process generates wastewater, which is typically disposed of in deep underground wells.

This is not the first lawsuit claiming that underground wastewater injection has caused earthquakes. In 2013, more than a dozen Arkansas landowners brought a lawsuit against the owners of fracking wells, claiming that earthquakes caused by the wastewater injection had damages their homes, reports Reuters.

Proving Negligence

To hold the energy company liable for her injuries, Ladra will likely have to show that they acted negligently in disposing of the wastewater.

Proving negligence typically requires not just prove that a person or in this case a corporation's actions caused an injury, but also that the person acted unreasonably under the circumstances. As injecting wastewater into underground wells appears to be the standard practice of the fracking industry, it may be difficult for Ladra to show that doing so was a breach of the energy companies' duty to operate safely.

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