Following an Arbitration Decision that Forest Oil Knowingly Contaminated Historic Ranch
Following over a decade of legal battles that took the McAllen family and Forest Oil all the way to the Texas Supreme Court, on April 28, 2017, the Texas Supreme Court ruled in favor of the McAllen’s by affirming the 1st Court of Appeals decision that affirmed the District Court’s confirmation of the Arbitration award, which was a $22+ million judgment and mandatory clean-up charges on the ranch. The pending clean-up charges could well exceed tens of millions of dollars.
In 2012, a three-member arbitration panel in a 2 to 1 decision awarded the McAllen family $22+ million in damages, and ordered Forest Oil to clean up the contaminated areas on the historic South Texas Ranch. Forest appealed, and took their appeal all the way to the Texas Supreme Court where arguments were held on February 8, 2017.
Led by San Antonio attorney Jon Christian Amberson, a team of lawyers on behalf of the historic McAllen Ranch in Hidalgo County went to battle against oil giant Sabine Oil and Gas Corporation. The oil company, formerly known as Forest Oil, changed its name to Sabine Oil and Gas Corporation. The oil company’s predecessor was found to have knowingly contaminated the McAllen Ranch with buried mercury-contaminated iron sponge and donated radioactive contaminated pipe material that led to exposure to radiation which resulted in an increased risk of cancer for the family members and their ranch workers.
In late 1994, Forest Oil donated over 20,000-feet of used pipe material to be utilized by the McAllen Ranch and their employees to build fencing, corrals and other ranch facilities involved with wildlife preservation the McAllens were leading on their ranch. Unbeknownst to the McAllen family and their ranch employees at that time, but known to Forest Oil executives, the donated pipe was contaminated with radioactive materials measuring up to 1411 picocuries, over 48 times the regulatory limit. It was only after a former 20-year Forest Oil employee informed the McAllens over a decade later, that the pipe Forest donated was contaminated with radioactive material that the then higher rates of Cancer illness among family members and ranch employees began to cause concern.
“What Forest Oil knowingly did to the McAllen family and its employees, exposing them directly to radioactive scale measuring up to 1411 picocuries when the regulatory limit for loose scale is 20 picocuries, over a 10-year period, putting their health in grave peril, is incomprehensible,” attorney Jon Christian Amberson said.
Forest Oil is a Denver-based independent oil and natural gas company. The Company was founded in Northwestern Pennsylvania in 1916. Forest Oil primarily operated in two core regions located in the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas and the Ark-La-Tex Area of East Texas and North Louisiana and was acquired by Sabine Oil and Gas Corporation, which resulted in the name change.
“The mental anguish this family and their employees have suffered after learning that they were intentionally exposed to radioactive materials that far exceeded regulatory limits is immense, especially after learning that Forest employees and executives joked about “rhinos glowing in the dark because of the radiation from the donated pipes” due to the intentional gifting of radioactive materials to the McAllen family,” Amberson said.
Amberson continued: “Forest Oil/Sabine Oil and Gas Corporation must be held accountable for knowingly inflicting this level of damages on these good people. We would have never known about this horrific act if it were not for the whistleblower, Bobby Pearson, coming forward and telling us the truth.”
“We are finally able to hold Forest Oil accountable for their evil and intentional deeds and justice has been done,” Amberson said.
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