The insurer is suing seven oil and gas companies in order to achieve subrogation for quake damage.
Steadfast Insurance Company is suing seven oil and gas companies, seeking subrogation in an effort to recover the almost $400,000 it has paid out in policyholder claims. The lawsuit is over the wastewater injections that occurred near Pawnee.
The complaint is not entirely unique, as four other pending lawsuits of a similar nature have been filed.
On September 3, 2016, the Pawnee Nation’s government buildings were damaged by a magnitude 5.8 earthquake. Since then, several companies have sued oil and gas companies practicing wastewater injections in the region. Eagle Road LLC – one of the defendants in the Steadfast Insurance case – is represented by attorney Steven Adams. Adams explained that Eagle Road and the other energy companies are already facing four other similar lawsuits. Each suit relates to the Pawnee earthquake of 2016.
“This is just another lawsuit, like many that have been filed in the state of Oklahoma,” said Adams, as quoted in an article in The Journal Record. Oklahoma has experienced a sharp increase in the number of earthquakes it experiences since fracking – and its wastewater injection – activities began in the state.
The Steadfast Insurance lawsuit alleges that the defendants’ wastewater injections caused the earthquakes.
The defendants in the lawsuit by the insurance company are: Cummings Oil Co., Eagle Road LLC, Enervest Operating LLC, PetroQuest Energy LLC, Petro Warrior LLC, and Trinity Operating USG LLC.
The lawsuit alleges that the wastewater disposal activities of the defendants were responsible for triggering the 2016 earthquake that damaged the Pawnee buildings. Among the damaged structures were the Pawnee tribal government buildings. This required employees who worked in the buildings to have to move their computer servers to another location in order to protect them from further damage.
Steadfast Insurance is a subsidiary of Zurich Holding Co. Of America Inc. The insurer covered the damaged buildings. “Steadfast paid the nation $324,269.98 for the claim for the damages to government buildings. The insurance company alleged the seven companies have absolute liability for the earthquake because Oklahoma government officials acknowledged wastewater injection into the Arbuckle rock formation could trigger earthquakes and it’s not possible to eliminate the quake risks even if disposal well operators follow the guidelines of state-issued permits,” said the insurance company complaint. The Steadfast Insurance claims the oil and gas companies were negligent, trespassed and created a private nuisance.