Antero Resources Corporation v. Strudley
Colorado Supreme Court
2015 CO 26, 347 P.3d 149 (2015)
William and Beth Strudley (plaintiffs) sued Antero Resources Corporation (Antero) (defendant) in Colorado state court, alleging that pollutants from Antero’s natural-gas drilling operations had contaminated the air, water, and ground near the Strudleys’ home and injured the Strudleys and their children. The Strudleys’ complaint identified the alleged chemical pollutants but did not causally connect any specific chemicals to their injuries. Antero asked the trial court to issue a Lone Pine order—a case-management order named after a 1986 New Jersey state-court decision—requiring the Strudleys to present prima facie evidence supporting their claims of exposure, injury, and causation before discovery could continue. The trial court issued a Lone Pine order giving the Strudleys 105 days to present (1) a prima facie showing of toxin exposure from Antero’s activities, supported by expert opinions and medical records, (2) evidence of causation regarding the specific toxins for each of the Strudleys, and (3) identification and quantification of the contamination to the Strudleys’ real property that was attributable to Antero’s drilling operations. The Strudleys submitted evidence including photographs, medical records, air and water analyses, and a doctor’s affidavit opining that further investigation was necessary given the Strudleys’ symptoms and conditions. However, the Strudleys presented no expert opinions concluding that they had been exposed to toxins or that Antero’s drilling operations had caused the alleged injuries and property damage. Antero moved to dismiss the Strudleys’ action for failure to comply with the case-management order, and the trial court granted the motion. However, the appellate court reinstated the Strudleys’ claims after holding that the trial court had exceeded its authority by issuing the Lone Pine order. The Colorado Supreme Court granted certiorari.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Hobbs, J.)
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