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Tulsa judge dismisses insurance company’s earthquake lawsuit

A U.S. District Court judge in Tulsa has dismissed an earthquake lawsuit filed by an insurance company against six energy companies it accused of causing earthquakes in Oklahoma.

Judge Gregory K. Frizzell made the ruling in a lawsuit brought by the Steadfast Insurance company which is a subsidiary of Zurich Holding Company of America, Inc. The company’s client was the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma which had suffered more than $400,000 damage to its buildings and Steadfast sought to recover insurance payments.

The suit had been filed against the Eagle Road Oil LLC, Cummings Oil Company, Territory Resources LLC, Enervest Operating LLC, Petro Warrior LLC, Petroquest Energy LLC and Trinity Operating LLC. The insurance firm filed suit in an effort to recover $324,269.98 that it paid the Pawnee Nation for insurance coverage.

Judge Frizzell upheld a claim by the defendants that the suit in effect was a mirror of the lawsuit brought by the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma against Eagle Road Oil and others. The judge agreed the suit was a violation of the Oklahoma law that forbids “claim splitting.”

“In this lawsuit, Steadfast asserts the same rights and prays for essentially the same relief based on the same facts as the Nation does in the first-filed lawsuit,” wrote the judge. “According, the court dismisses Steadfast’s claims against all defendants without prejudice on the basis of improper claim splitting.”

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