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Pawnee residents file class-action lawsuit against energy compainies after 5.8 earthquake

Posted at 9:12 PM, Nov 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-19 17:08:49-05

Some Pawnee residents affected by Oklahoma's largest recorded earthquake have filed a class-action lawsuit against dozens of energy companies.

“It’s just been a constant of earthquake after earthquake after earthquake,” Ron Brown, Facility Manager at Pawnee Bill Ranch and Museum, said.

The earthquakes in Pawnee started small, but grew, each doing a little more damage than the last.

A 5.8 quake hit in September, shaking the town of Pawnee to its core. For some, the fear outweighs the damage.

“There's also an emotional toll,” Brown said.

Some residents, spooked by just the rumble of a train.

“Everybody thinks it's an earthquake or it's the next big one,” Brown said.

Some Pawnee residents have filed a class-action lawsuit against 27 energy companies. The two listed on the suit are Eagle Road Oil, LLC and Cummings Oil Company. The other 25 are not identified.

The lawsuit claims companies are showing "reckless disregard for public or private safety" by knowingly using wastewater injection methods that cause earthquakes.

“We have clients who complain that they won't let their grandchildren upstairs because they're worried about ceilings collapsing on their grandchildren,” Curt Marshall, an attorney for the residents said.

Although not a plaintiff in this lawsuit, Brown said enough is enough.

“Why hesitate, why risk personal lives?"

Brown manages the Pawnee Bill Ranch and Museum, one of Oklahoma's historic sites.

“We’ve got a lot of valuable things and things we don't want to lose that's very important to the history of Oklahoma,” Brown said.

The ranch had minor damage from September’s quake, but Brown worries future quakes could damage or destroy irreplaceable items.

“There's still aftershocks from the epicenter of the 5.8 that happened,” Brown said. “They're still having aftershocks.”

The lawsuit seeks money for property damage and reduced value, plus emotional distress.

Brown said he hopes it'll send a message to energy companies so people in Pawnee don't have to live in fear.

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