News Column

Feds Shoot Down Fracking Case

June 10, 2013

A Clarksburg, W.Va., man who sued several companies involved in natural gas extraction for exposure to fracking chemicals has lost his case in federal court.

Salvatore M. Bombardiere Sr., of Clarksburg, sued Schlumberger Technology Corp. (STC), of Texas, CONSOL Energy and its subsidiary, CNX Gas Co., and SOS Staffing Services Inc., of Utah.

Schlumberger, a gas drilling and development company, and CNX use SOS to hire contract workers for gas well operations. In December 2009, SOS hired Bombardiere to work at two Pennsylvania well pads for Schlumberger and CNX.

Bombardiere alleged that while handling buckets of fracking chemicals -- at two different well sites -- he was exposed to fracking chemicals without adequate training or protective gear, leading to burns, scarring, disfigurement, respiratory problems and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The case was heard in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia in Clarksburg by Judge John Preston Bailey. Bombardiere brought multiple counts against the four companies: Seven against Consol/CNX; seven against STC and six against SOS. He then withdrew four charges against Consol/CNX, three against STC and one against SOS.

Bailey then granted summary judgments in favor of all three companies on three counts, including negligence and punitive damages. These rulings eliminated Consol/CNX from the case.

He then ruled in favor of SOS on a count of deliberate intent -- essentially deliberate exposure to hazardous conditions. Bailey said Bombardiere failed to prove the five criteria needed to establish his claim, including the presence and knowledge of an unsafe working condition, and plaintiff suffering serious compensable injury.

That left only STC in the case, on one count: Deliberate intent. This went to jury trial, and on March 7, the jury determined no unsafe working condition existed for Bombardiere that presented a high risk and a strong probability of serious injury or death. The case was officially closed April 16.


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Source: Copyright Dominion Post (Morgantown, WV) 2013

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