My deposition with Range Resources was not what I expected.

by TXsharon on August 7, 2012

in deposition, subpoena

Yesterday was not what I expected. I guess I expected some sincerity in these words, “…Range does not seek a deposition based on Ms. Wilson’s writing on her blog.”  I can’t offer an excuse for my naive expectations.

Here is the Sharon Wilson rough breakdown on my deposition topics:

  • 90% writings on my blog
  • 6% the Range/Lipsky case
  • 2% my work and marital history
  • 1% my royalties
  • 1% PSYOPS (thank you for asking)

Had the words in the letter been true, the deposition would have lasted about an hour rather than six.

I suspect that we are seeing the Fracking Mafia* template for intimidating affected landowners and opposition going forward. If they are successful, this method will be used again.

I have been incredibly lucky because I found an attorney, Scott McLain, who helped me pro bono. Scott spent many hours working on my case and twice traveled from McAllen to North Texas.  The time Scott spent working on my case, he was not earning a living for is family or paying the expenses on his practice or enjoying time with his family. I am deeply grateful.

I am also grateful that Earthworks stood behind me with support and raised funds to help pay for Scott’s travel expenses.

Can you imagine what might have happened if Scott had not stepped up to help me? How can a regular person defend themselves against a billion dollar corporation?

I can’t imagine how much Range has spent on me with all the attorneys and intel/surveillance and presentation and murdered trees and… It’s unimaginable. Maybe they should cut down on frivolous spending. I’m sure the shareholders would appreciate that.

I’m not sure what comes next. When I get the transcript, I will count how many times the word defamation was used. If they decide to sue me, at least then my attorneys can get a pay check.

* In all past references and in all references going forward the use of the term mafia, when applied to this industry, references the 2nd usage for the word from the Merriam Webster Dictionary. I looked it up ages ago.

Background

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous August 7, 2012 at 7:40 pm

God bless you both (you and Scott). What Range is doing is down right bullying you and standing up to the bully(s) is the only thing that will make them go away.

As for the ‘mafia’ comments on the blog, hey, just check out “The People vs Larry Flint” you can always say, it’s just hyperbole. Isn’t that the line they used when Jerry Falwell was insulted by the rants of “Hustler”. If it worked for Larry, why can’t it work for you?

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Anonymous August 7, 2012 at 7:46 pm

That Range bunch sucks bigtime. They, (as other O&G operators do), do whatever they want to whenever they want to–that’s the definition of the Mafia!

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Tim Ruggiero August 7, 2012 at 8:32 pm

I think what will be very telling is to post the letter that speaks to what the deposition is intended for and it’s purpose and then post a number of the questions that were asked, and anyone can see for themselves what David Poole’s intent is.

Range Resources has no case, and they know this, so they have created one to distance themselves from the truth. But bullies don’t take NO for answer, and they certainly don’t like getting any kind of push-back from the little people. Having Judge Loftin exposed for the judicial failure he is had to be a major setback in itself.

I would have thought that as General Counsel for RRC, and as an officer of the company, he would know better than to get his company involved in such legal wrangling that obviously serves no legitimate purpose other than to further their agenda, As an officer of the company, I would think he has an inherent responsibility to be a good steward of his company’s expenditures. So much for thinking, I was wrong on both counts.

Range Resources’ purpose in deposing you was nothing more than an effort to get you to stop posting the truth about them by way of videos and documents, and, of course, all of those hours of recordings of Matt Pitzarella and his fellow fibbers IN THEIR OWN WORDS.

First, it’s ‘doctored videos’ and then it’s ‘doctored recordings’. Since they have no honest response and obviously no integrity, the doctored videos and doctored recordings makes for a good distraction-but we’ve seen this amateur hour trick before, and the Bully Poole sulks and whines and cries, because that’s what spoiled little boys do when thy don’t get their way.

As we come full circle for the umpteenth time, Range Resources could do themselves and their shareholders and enormous favor by just Drilling Right;Own up to your mistakes, make the necessary corrections and move forward. Make an actual honest attempt not to repeat the mistakes.

We’ll never know, but I’d be willing to bet if RRC recognized the PR damage alone from the Lypsky case, and did something as simple as installing a water filtration system, (with the requisite non-disclosure agreement, of course) there would never have been any subsequent lawsuit or who knows how many thousands of dollars spent on attorneys, briefcase carriers, power point presenters and a forest’s worth of paper.

But what do I know? I’m not an attorney, a general counsel or have a Ph.D in Economics. It just seems to me there’s got to be a better way than the Range Resources’ method.

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Dave Mesier August 7, 2012 at 9:06 pm

Sounds like a typical SLAPP suit (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) Typically they were used in our area when we opposed landfills and trash incinerators. Waste Management was the “king” of them about 20 years ago.

Here is some info which may be useful regarding SLAPP Suits

http://www.citmedialaw.org/legal-guide/responding-strategic-lawsuits-against-public-participation-slapps

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TXsharon August 7, 2012 at 11:54 pm

Thanks for the link.

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GhostBlogger August 8, 2012 at 9:26 pm

Their Texas SLAPP page:

http://www.citmedialaw.org/legal-guide/anti-slapp-law-texas

I hope you charge Range $500 an hour for your time.

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TXsharon August 8, 2012 at 10:34 pm

That is very interesting. Surprisingly, TX has a pretty strong SLAPP law.

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FM WatchDog August 7, 2012 at 10:43 pm

Maybe they will sue the 6,141 people who have “liked” your blog next.

At 200k a pop, that is over 1 billion dollars. Those are just a subset. You can’t sue an idea. The idea that maybe, just maybe, gas drilling is NOT in the best interest of a neighborhood.

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DEB August 8, 2012 at 7:55 am

Well Sharon. This is only a sign of the times to come for all of us. I’m truly sorry that you had to be the first to blaze this trail with the gas mafia, but want to thank you for being so honest in your blog.

We will all get these SLAPP suits sooner or later, but they won’t shut us up. As each day passes, there is more and more evidence of the severe consequences of this industry. I know. The first well is behind me now and it’s a royal pain in the ass to have to get up and test your water before you can even brush your teeth, or wash your face. Not a good way to start each day.

As the numbers rise on our TDS meter, so do the worries. You can either sit back and take it, or fight. I’m choosing to fight to get the truth out and hope and pray that people get the STOOPIDNESS out of their brains and quit signing these fracking leases.

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TXsharon August 8, 2012 at 9:55 am

Sorry for your troubles with your water. It’s so outrageous–all of it.

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Chip Northrup August 8, 2012 at 8:39 am

The good news is that the press needed a new Mr Fracking Ugly after Chesapeake / Audrey McClendon did a face plant, and so they now have Range/ Poole for that. . . . so cheers for that.

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Khepry Quixote August 8, 2012 at 1:41 pm

Miss Sharon,

First things first: Thank you for doing the job of reporting that you are doing.

I consider your site one of the primary sources of information about the impact of “fracking.” While others might voice an opinion that your site might have a slant or lack objectivity, I do not see it that way. This is America! [The preceding is to be said with the same intensity and foot kick as "This is Sparta!"] And as an American, college educated and trained up all fancily and such, I think that I’m capable of reading information from diverse sources and forming my own opinions as to its veracity.

The mainstream media abdicated its role of investigative and/or objective reporting nearly two decades ago when it became all about eyeballs, clicks, and fluff to generate ever-growing profits to appease the ever-growing appetites of the shareholders. Various mainstream media organizations succumbed at different times, but they all succumbed nevertheless. Relatively few articles from the mainstream media are available concerning “fracking” and your site is one of the only significant sources of information about the subject. I suspect that the mainstream media sources your site for what few articles they write these days.

If permissible, could you please post your deposition(s) to your site, especially if they’re in an electronically readable format? I’d like to both read them for myself and, since I’m a programmer, extract them for later analytical purposes. I figure that these tactics will be used on others in the future and I’d like to see if I can come up with some open-source tools for those that must endure this pain for the sake of us all.

In conclusion, you are walking the path of the righteous and I very much appreciate you doing so. I am truly sorry for the stones thrown at you along the way, for those doing the stone-throwing might stay their missiles should one day they find themselves on the receiving end of another entity’s “responsible fracking” activities.
You and your site, like it or not, have become both the reporter and the modern media.

If at all possible, especially if the deposition is in an electronically readable format, could you please post it online? I’d like to both read it and extract it via a program.

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TXsharon August 8, 2012 at 9:33 pm

Thank you for your kind words. I do intend to make my deposition available online when I receive it. It is 6 hours worth.

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HighPlainsDrifter August 8, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Your article should have been called “My 15 Minutes Of Fame”

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Tim Ruggiero August 8, 2012 at 10:16 pm

15 minutes more than you’ll ever know. And, unlike you, she doesn’t hide behind anonymity.

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GhostBlogger August 8, 2012 at 9:16 pm

Range Resources may be trying to put you out of the blogging business, but, the movement of fracking danger awareness is growing. A contact sent a link to an interesting new Facebook group:

http://www.facebook.com/LandownersOilGasInspectionCorps

So, send you outrageous O&G facility photos to them. Someone had already tipped them off about the “duct tape to repair produced water pipelines” photos & video by Elizabeth Burns.

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GhostBlogger August 8, 2012 at 9:23 pm

Wow, Columbia used duct tape here, about 4 minutes in:

http://youtu.be/K5SiS99QVTs

So, every one get out your cameras & camcorders, and keep an eye on Range Resources & other frackers.

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Dean August 9, 2012 at 12:51 pm

Are they full of s***? Wait isn’t your site ‘s pure motive and intent to defame the oil and gas industry. What’s your defense? What are the limits of the 1st amendment ? Jeez

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FM WatchDog August 9, 2012 at 2:46 pm

You are perfectly free to not read the blog and not waste your time if you feel it is. Nobody is shoving it down your throat, unlike gas drilling in our neighborhoods, which IS being force fed to me and my children.

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Khepry Quixote August 9, 2012 at 3:36 pm

I did my time in the petrochemical industry in Southeast Texas, twenty-six (26) years worth in fact, and I can testify personally that the oil and gas industry defames itself routinely. To it, OSHA is a joke, the EPA a toothless dog, and winds from the north are to be celebrated. When the wind blows from the north, the plants flare day and night so that the flares’ output blows out to sea and can’t be measured by the improperly positioned air quality monitoring stations.

Workers are cannon fodder: I once was “privileged” to listen in on three days of debate as to whether it was cheaper to pay off a worker’s life insurance claim or cut a door in a wall so that a worker could have a second exit in case of a fire. The accountants, at the behest of the Plant Controller, were calculating the costs of death versus safety…objectively…with calculators and spreadsheets to boot.

Fume hoods, in the laboratory, were either not present, dysfunctional, or not properly located over the experiments from which fumes were to be collected. Repeated entreaties, mentioned every quarter, over three years to correct the fume hood situation in the laboratory resulted in no action whatsoever. I finally quit asking when I was told to my face that “Safety is a line item on the plant’s profit-and-loss report. Lawsuit settlements are a line item on the corporation’s profit-and-loss report. Which one do you think we’ll do?” Ironically, that very comment cost the corporation approximately $11.25 million dollars in a lawsuit settlement on behalf of the survivors of a deceased laboratory worker.

Over and over again, I hear the mantra that “hydro-fracturing operations are safe when practiced by responsible operators.” So too it might be in the Southeast Texas petrochemical plants, but “responsibility” seems to be the anti-thesis of profit, and so it is one of the first items sacrificed upon the altar of the shareholders.

In another industry, cell-tower workers routinely skirt the safety regulations and climb without harnesses, all in an effort to retain their jobs and make their employers’ quotas. Where, in that industry, heavily layered with sub-contractors is the “responsibility?”

I am a “speaker for the dead” not as a drone repeating a dirge fed to me by alleged left-wing radicals, but rather as witness to three decades of the routine abuse and abrogation of that which is the law or is “responsible.”

“What are limits of the 1st amendment?” you ask. If memory serves me correctly, that is the amendment to the United States Constitution that covers the right to free speech. Simply put, it is not “defamation” to document that which is an abrogation of “responsible” operations. While that documentation may have a “slant” to it, so to does the opposing side of the debate, and both manifest their beliefs in print.

One thing I know for certain is that anyone with a modicum of experience in their industry of choice that says that they have never witnessed an “irresponsible” act is a liar.

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Dean August 9, 2012 at 4:51 pm

TX and all followers of this blog, let me be clear – let me clear that i do not agree with you but i respect and appreciate the work you do. I believe you are within your legal right to say and do as you wish, so long as you are reporting the facts and offering your opinions. I don’t know if you doctored or staged tbe video with malice intent. I sincerely hope you did not but that is for the courts to decide. If they have a reasonable suspicion that you did, they are within their rights to ask the court to intervene. This is our system, like it or not.

I come to your blog to learn. There are alot of insightful and experienced folks
that post their experiences. Many don’t know much about engineering or science, but there is alot to learn from them too. Mostly i see people are angry and want
change. And for that, your blog serves as an excellent outlet.

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TXsharon August 9, 2012 at 8:13 pm
Khepry Quixote August 10, 2012 at 2:30 am

Angry? Not so much. Frustrated? Definitely. I don’t offer opinions or relate past experiences within this blog out of anger, rather I do so more out of frustration.

Having enjoyed the “thrill” that is divorce and the pain that is marriage counseling, I thought that my trials were unique to both me and others. Never did it occur to me that the marriage counselor had heard them all before, innumerable times and following similar patterns.

After thirty years of professional experience, I have come to realize that my hard-won knowledge comes with a price: that patterns I’ve observed in the past repeat themselves over and over and will do so in the future. This being said, now I come to my point concerning this reply to the “people are angry and want change” clause in the comment above.

It is the present-day mantra that “hydro-fracturing is safe when practiced by responsible operators,” repeated over and over again, that causes my frustration with those that utter it. My frustration stems from the fact that I’ve heard multiple variants of this mantra in the past, each mantra for a different industry, and all proving to be disastrously false. I’ve actually been an employee in some of the industries that have extolled these mantras, so my knowledge is not just hearsay, and sometimes my experience is bitterly personal.

Superfund site after Superfund site, few properly mitigated and most lingering in a morass of legal wrangling intended to delay the day of financial reckoning for the company or companies at fault. Residents waiting for remediation that has yet to arrive and likely never will. The offenders constantly repeating the mantra over and over again, papering over their transgressions with hush money and non-disclosure clauses.

Angry? No. Frustrated? Yes.

Why? Because the purveyors of these mantras firmly believe that by repeating them over and over again, just like those that practice “magical thinking,” so shall it be in reality. And just like it is for the seasoned marriage counselor: it all fits into the same old deceptive patterns, and worse yet, it’s all been heard before.

As for knowledgeable about engineering or science: how about a college education in chemical engineering, life sciences, and IT rounded out with a lifetime of software and database experience, coupled with direct experience with missiles and nuclear weapons? Is that technical enough for you to understand that I’m not talking out my ass about subjects I know nothing about.

If I say that I’ve seen abuses of “responsibility” before, can you understand my frustration based on a lifetime of experience, when others start rocking back-and-forth uttering the “magical thinking” mantra of “we’re responsible, we’re responsible, we’re responsible” as if they’re holding prayer beads and the harder they pray the more likely that it’ll be so?

Angry? No. Frustrated? Yes.

Frustration now more so because of those that refuse to realize that the history of unlearned disaster is the disastrous history of unnecessary repetition.

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