Lawsuit against Antero to be filed Thursday in Denver | PostIndependent.com

Lawsuit against Antero to be filed Thursday in Denver

John Colson
Post Independent staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

A lawsuit against Antero Resources is set to be filed Thursday in Denver District Court, alleging that Antero’s gas drilling operations on Silt Mesa forced a family to flee their own home and take up renting in another part of Garfield County.

Attorneys for law firms in Aspen and New York City announced on Tuesday that they would be filing the suit and holding a press conference Thursday on the steps of the state Capitol building in Denver.

Antero officials did not return calls seeking comment for this story.

The Silt Mesa family was not named in the announcement about the suit, although a spokeswoman for the law firm of Thomas Genshaft LLP in Aspen confirmed recently that the suit is being filed on behalf of the family of Bill and Beth Strudley.

The statement did not give any details from the lawsuit, and the attorneys could not be reached for further comment by press time.

The Strudley family, a couple and their two sons, lived for four years on Silt Mesa in a home they owned. In September, 2010, Antero drilled an exploratory gas well within approximately half a mile of the Strudley house.

The family reported that one of their sons grew seriously ill in the late summer of 2010, developing rashes, nosebleeds and blackouts that he had never experienced before the drilling started.

By early 2011, others in the family had reported similar symptoms, and the Strudleys relocated to a rental home well away from Silt Mesa, to get away from what they considered to be toxic fumes and potential water contamination from the drilling activities.

Antero has denied that its activities have anything to do with the Strudleys’ health problems. Efforts to contact the company’s Rifle and Denver offices for this story were not successful.

The company’s denials recently were supported by reports from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC). The COGCC, after taking water samples from the Strudleys’ domestic water well, reported that tests showed no chemical contamination that could be attributed to gas drilling.

The Strudleys, who stopped drinking from their well and began having water delivered to them in 2010, have maintained that their maladies were connected to water-borne contaminants or to the fumes emanating from the drilling rigs.

According to the statement from the Aspen law firm, and its partner firm in New York, Napoli Bern Ripka and Associates, the suit “alleges that the operations undertaken by Antero Resources and several of its subcontractors … caused the contamination of the property, leading (to) their forced exile from their home and serious health effects.”

In addition, the statement continues, “the law firms anticipate filing similar actions in the near future.”

The New York firm recently won a roughly $800 million settlement for thousands of police, fire and other emergency workers who responded to the 9/11 attacks in New York City in 2001.

The firm also is involved in cases concerning hydraulic fracturing of gas wells in Pennsylvania, according to Thomas. Efforts to reach Marc Bern, a principal of the New York firm, were not successful on Thursday.

The attorneys have been talking since early January with individuals in the Silt Mesa and Battlement Mesa portions of Garfield County, including a meeting on Tuesday with residents at Battlement Mesa.

Antero plans to drill up to 200 gas wells, from nine well pads, inside the Battlement Mesa community, plans which have generated opposition from some residents.

jcolson@postindependent.com


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