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Jurors Deliberating in Water Contamination Case

SCRANTON — Jurors are deliberating in a federal civil trial to determine if Cabot Oil and Gas contaminated wells belonging to two families in Susquehanna ...
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SCRANTON -- Jurors are deliberating in a federal civil trial to determine if Cabot Oil and Gas contaminated wells belonging to two families in Susquehanna County.

Two families from Dimock Township sued Cabot, claiming their water was contaminated from natural gas drilling back in 2009.

The Hubert family and the Ely family, both from Dimock Township, are the only residents who did not settle with Cabot Oil and Gas over water contamination. In 2012, 40 other residents settled with the company.

The Ely and Hubert families claimed their drinking water was contaminated by the drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale.

"It's been a battle," said plaintiff Scott Ely. "I mean, you're up against a multi multi multi million dollar company. And you've seen the litigation team they had. I mean, they're sitting there with six attorneys on their side. They had quite the team."

Cabot's attorney's wrapped up the two-and-a-half-week trial with a scathing closing argument, saying the families from Dimock have no proof that Cabot wells directly contaminated the drinking water.

A Cabot attorney told the jury the "plaintiffs are pursuing more of a cause than a case. All of us have causes, you decide the case. You'll find that there's no case here."

It was a point that angered anti-fracking activists who have sat through the trial.

"Of course, I disagree because all of these people signed leases in the beginning and were pro-gas until they got harmed and their water changed so they couldn't use it anymore. It became bubbly, made an odor, a change in the constituents. They couldn't use it anymore. Then they changed their opinion about gas drilling," said anti-fracking activist Vera Scroggins.

Several families from Dimock have settled cases with Cabot in recent years. Scott Ely says no matter the outcome, he's glad his family rolled the dice.

"A lot of ups and downs, and I'm glad it's over. I hope we can, we made the truth and got it out there. People need to stand up for what's right," said Ely.

The Elys were offered more than $150,000 and the Huberts $50,000 but those two remaining families did not believe the offers matched the struggles they have been dealing with.

Jurors deliberated into the evening, asking several questions during that time. Around 5:30 p.m. the jury asked the judge for any guidance on how they might determine a dollar amount for damages in the case.