Monday, October 21, 2013

Vera Scroggins SLAPP'd by Cabot with less than 1 business day's notice.

Our friend and Citizen Journalist in Fracksylvania Vera Scroggins
was dragged into court this morning by Cabot Oil and Gas.

The papers were sent to an address where Vera has not lived for 5 years.
She was finally served with papers 10:30 on Friday, to appear Monday (today)
at 9am with no time to get counsel, witnesses, or even fully read the complaint.
(several counts of trespass-- most of them were bogus).
FOUR attorneys present for Cabot! (three from Pittsburgh)
Continuance was DENIED because the judge didn't have
"24 hours notice on the motion".  (
Funny, Vera didn't get a full business day to get counsel.)

The judge said, "We have several attorneys here from Pittsburgh. Do you want
to pay them for their time?" (Is that really Vera's problem?)

The relief was a temporary preliminary injunction to enjoin
Vera from "trespassing on Cabot's property", because she is
causing "irreparable harm to Cabot".

Vera tried many times to introduce testimony that it was Cabot
that was causing irreparable harm
, that Cabot was levied with
many safety violations, including from OSHA regarding
worker safety around silica sand (the "necessity defense"),
and that many of these fines and citations were a direct result of Vera's
documentary work. Each time the prosecution objected and the
judge stuck the testimony from the record.

They tried to say "Vera has been warned many times to never
be on Cabot's property", yet she was NEVER issued any such
warnings in writing. No site has "no trespassing signs", only
"Authorized Personnel Only. Visitors Report to Office".

So she goes up to the office, and often the site supervisor
invites her in and chats, sometimes for an hour or more,
and invites her back. If they ask her to leave, she does.

Despite Cabot's charge she has been warned "many times"
over these last 4 years, there have been NO police reports
for trespass, no arrests, EVER. Cabot witness admitted this
on the stand.

As many of you know, Vera has given tours for journalist
and government officials and ordinary folks from all over
the US and the world. Many times Vera brings busloads of
people on to these sites.

When questioned about a 53 passenger bus which came
on to a Cabot pad containing members of the press and
legislators of Poland, Vera asked the Cabot witness:
"If this was such a horrible crime, why was I not arrested
or charged at the time?" The Cabot witness replied,
"because we feared it would become an international

After 4 hours of testimony and a dozen witnesses for Cabot,
she was SLAPP'ed with the preliminary injunction. These
kinds of nuiscance lawsuits are called SLAPP suits,
and are meant to intimidate people who are making
a difference against corporate polluters and bullies
like Cabot:

There are MANY details about how absurd these charges are
and about what a circus the proceeding was, and these
will be coming soon... Wanted to get something out there.

We are seeking legal assistance from Environmental NGOs.
If you have any connections, PLEASE let us know.

Also seeking media contacts who can tell this story properly.

Contact any of the following people if you can help.
Thank you.

May you, and all beings
be happy and free from suffering :)
-- ancient Buddhist Prayer (Metta)


Vera said...

thanks, Bill, for being there and being a witness and being supportive; it was four hours in court; me vs 4 Cabot lawyers and acting as my own attorney; it definitely was an intense, learning experience. I have to stay away from Cabot leased lands and their personal properties and stay on the road or get charged and fined next time...thankfully, Cabot does not lease the whole county....

Carol French said...

Vera & Bill, if you have written permission from the landowner you can be on that site. I would not go on the pad during fracking! The landowner owns the surface. You must ask if the land owner signed a surface use agreement first to understand the true ownership of the surface.

Colleen Boland said...


Steve said...

Vera - You might try talking to lawyer Mike Ewell at the Energy Justice Network.

He is out of D.C. and may know some lawyers who work this area.

I know Damascus Citizens for Sustainability have some legal people who work with them.

Sadly this is proof that you are being effective.

barbara Coyle said...

an international incident!! good heavens! let's give them one - spread this far and wide - show their true colors to the world....goof for you Vera - you got under their skin!