Directed Verdict Removes Water Treatment Company From Eight-Year, $19.5 M Litigation
Case Study

Directed Verdict Removes Water Treatment Company From Eight-Year, $19.5 M Litigation

May 18, 2018

With a successful motion for directed verdict, Goldberg Segalla associate Arlow M. Linton obtained a dismissal on behalf of our client, one of the nation’s largest water treatment companies, from eight years of litigation involving hydraulic fracturing operations in New York.

The plaintiff in this case, venued in New York Supreme Court, County of Erie, was an operator of hydraulic fracturing wells; the defendant was the service company that conducted the fracturing operations on the plaintiff’s wells. Our client was a third-party defendant, brought in to the litigation because it had developed hydraulic fracturing chemicals at the request of, and in conjunction with, the defendant.

Demanding $19.5 million in damages, the plaintiff brought claims for breach of contract, negligence, and negligent misrepresentation for issues associated with hydraulic fracturing operations that occurred on the plaintiff’s wells between 2005 and 2007. Both the plaintiff and the defendant jockeyed to position negligence as the main cause of action, in an attempt to ensure that insurance proceeds of both the defendant and our client remained recoverable in the event of a verdict.

The parties were embroiled in complex litigation for eight years. The parties deposed 30 witnesses, and collectively prepared 762 exhibits for what would ultimately be a three-week trial.

Arlow moved for a directed verdict at the close of the plaintiff’s case, arguing that the matter was clearly a breach of contract case, based on an assessment of the damages sought. The court concurred, dismissing the negligence and negligent misrepresentation causes against both defendants. Because, under the Economic Loss Rule, the defendant was not entitled to indemnification or contribution of contractual damages from the third-party defendant, the third-party complaint was dismissed and the client was spared the expense of the last days of trial and of calling their experts, and avoided the uncertainty of a jury decision.