Nuisance and Negligence Claims Concerning Oil and Gas Operations Fail.

The plaintiffs bought a home on an acre and leased the mineral rights to the defendant's predecessor in exchange for a lease bonus and royalty interest.  The lease authorized the defendant to use the surface for oil and gas operations and drill horizontal wells.  The lease was pooled with other leases to create a larger drilling unit.  A year after the first well was drilled (not on the plaintiffs' property), the plaintiffs sued claiming that the defendant's negligent oilfield operations subjected them to toxic chemicals and noxious odors that made their existing health problems worse and damaged their property by creating sinkholes and damaging the home's pier and beam foundation.  The defendant moved for summary judgment and moved to strike most of the plaintiffs' evidence as inadmissible hearsay, unqualified lay opinions, and unreliable, speculative and conclusory expert opinions.  The trial court agreed and granted both a no-evidence summary judgment motion (directed verdict before trial) and a summary judgment motion.  On appeal, the court affirmed.  The court determined that the plaintiffs did not present more than a scintilla of probative expert evidence to create a material fact as to causation because none of their expert witnesses presented any evidence that differentiated between the plaintiffs' preexisting physical conditions and the new problems they claimed resulted from the oilfield operations.  The plaintiffs' nuisance claim also failed because lay witness testimony failed to show that the defendant's activities were the proximate cause of the complained-of substantial interference with the plaintiffs' use and enjoyment of their property.  Cerny v. Marathon Oil Corporation, No. 04-14-00650-CV, 2015 Tex. App. LEXIS 10364 (Tex. Ct. App. Oct. 7, 2015).