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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Plaintiffs Lawyers Eyeing Marcellus Shale Work

The sound of drills piercing the Marcellus Shale formation has pricked up the ears of attorneys whose practices range from tax and regulatory to land use and environmental. But personal injury lawyers and class action attorneys have also taken notice of what some believe is an environmental disaster in waiting because of a lack of state government oversight and a natural gas industry rushing to get a piece of the shale.

"The Marcellus Shale [could create] horrendous injuries because you have all this liquid and gas at high pressure, being carried over pipelines, being stored in million gallon ponds and tanks and being injected into the ground at high pressure," said Michael Rosenzweig, a partner and litigation manager in the Pittsburgh office of Edgar Snyder & Associates. "The failure scenarios are quite robust."

Those scenarios include everything from the potential for toxic gas leaks that cause burns and contaminate the environment to gas rig explosions to somewhat less obvious concerns such as the problems large tanker trucks can create on small rural roadways.

Rosenzweig said his firm has already seen numerous cases in Pennsylvania unrelated to the Marcellus Shale in which natural gas tankers too large for two-lane roads caused accidents and dragged debris onto the roadways resulting in slick driving conditions for other vehicles.

Rosenzweig and other plaintiffs firms The Legal Intelligencer spoke to said that, so far, they haven't yet filed many, if any, Marcellus Shale-related injury cases. But many seemed to believe it's only a matter of time.Read More