Concerned Citizens File Abuse of Process Counterclaim against Fracking Company
On March 23, Climaco, Wilcox, Peca, Tarantino & Garofoli Co., LPA and Parker Waichman LLP filed an abuse of process counterclaim against Duck Creek Energy, Inc. on behalf of concerned citizens Tish O’Dell and Michelle Aini. The case was filed in the Court of Common Pleas, Cuyahoga County, Ohio (Case No.12 cv 778554.).
On March 20, oil and gas company Duck Creek Energy, Inc. filed a lawsuit in Court of Common Pleas, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, against Ms. O’Dell and Ms. Aini alleging claims for defamation, tortious interference with business relations and tortious interference with prospective business relations (Case No. 12 cv 778554.) The allegations of Duck Creek Energy, Inc.’s complaint all relate to Ms. O’Dell’s and Ms. Aini’s expression of concern regarding the environmental and health impact of their municipality’s use of a road deicing product manufactured by Duck Creek Energy, Inc. According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the deicing product called AquaSalina™ is a saline product derived from brine produced at oil and gas wells.
On March 23, 2012, Ms. O’Dell and Ms. Aini filed a counterclaim against Duck Creek Energy, Inc. alleging that Duck Creek Energy, Inc.’s lawsuit is an abuse of process and was filed to accomplish an ulterior purpose for which it was not designed, to wit, to intimidate, harass and otherwise stop Ms. O’Dell and Ms. Aini from exercising their First Amendment Rights. As fully set forth in the counterclaim, the most recent analysis of AquaSalina™ provided to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources confirms that AquaSalina™ contains benzene, a known human carcinogen, in an amount of 7.04 ppm and the maximum allowable level of benzene in drinking water pursuant to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations is 5 ppm.
The counterclaim further attaches an email from the Mayor of Brecksville to another concerned citizen alleging that “We do not use Duck Creek's Aqua Saline product … we will not, not ever.” The counterclaim further attaches meeting minutes from the Service Committee meeting of the City of Broadview Heights in which the City determined that it “would no longer purchase AquaSalina for use on road salt” because “Benzene is a cancer causing chemical.”
Climaco, Wilcox, Peca, Tarantino & Garofoli Co., LPA and Parker Waichman LLP intend to vigorously defend Ms. O’Dell and Ms. Aini against Duck Creek Energy, Inc.’s unabashed attempt to stifle their clients’ First Amendment Rights to petition their government regarding the use and dispersal of AquaSalina™ on municipal roadways and other driving surfaces and the potential environmental and health effects such dispersal may have.