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Yetter Coleman secures $70 million jury verdict in Ohio trespass suit

Yetter Coleman, along with Babst Calland, has secured a $70 million jury verdict on behalf of Triad Hunter (“Triad”) against Westlake Corporation (“Westlake”).

The verdict was announced on October 27, 2022, following a three-week trial before Honorable Julie Selmon in Monroe County, Ohio. The jury unanimously found in favor of Triad’s claims for trespass and negligence and awarded over $70 million in compensatory damages.

The suit, filed in 2018, centered on a solution mining plant owned by Westlake on the West Virginia bank of the Ohio River. The plant has been solution mining for salt in the Salina formation since the 1940s. Triad owns mineral rights in Ohio across the Ohio River from the plant, and sought to produce natural gas from the prolific Marcellus and Utica formations. While drilling gas wells on its property, Triad encountered pressurized brine and hydrogen sulfide in the Salina formation where Westlake mines for salt. Triad also discovered damage to well casings in Triad’s wells at the same depth as the Salina formation. Triad alleged that Westlake’s solution mining caused caverns filled with brine to extend into Ohio, and that this trespass damaged Triad’s wells and rendered the natural gas formation above the Salina unsafe to develop.

The trial team included Paul Yetter, Tracy LeRoy, Chris Ward, Casey Downing, Audrey Hendricks, and Luke Schamel of Yetter Coleman, and Tim Miller and Robert Stonestreet of Babst Calland.

The case is Triad Hunter, LLC v. Eagle Natrium LLC, Axiall Corporation, and Westlake Chemical Corporation, No. 2018-149, in the Court of Common Pleas of Monroe County, Ohio.