A Washington County judge Wednesday agreed to consider a request to make public a confidential, 2011 Marcellus Shale gas damage settlement document missing from court records she ordered unsealed in March.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Washington Observer-Reporter asked President Judge Debbie O'Dell-Seneca to rule on their motion to complete the court record in the Hallowich family damage case against Range Resources Inc., MarkWest Energy Partners and Williams Gas/Laurel Mountain Midstream.
MarkWest appealed Judge O'Dell-Seneca's March order to unseal the Hallowich case records to the state Superior Court in April and argued Wednesday that the action to complete the court record is precluded by that appeal.
The newspapers have sought access to court records in the Hallowich case since they were sealed in August 2011 by Washington County Judge Paul Pozonsky, who has since resigned for reasons unrelated to that case.
Why the settlement agreement was not part of the 900-page court record unsealed in March is, Judge O'Dell-Seneca said Wednesday, "a puzzle that has not been resolved."
The Hallowich family claimed their property value and health were damaged when four Marcellus Shale gas wells, compressor stations and a 3-acre wastewater impoundment were drilled and installed adjacent to their 10-acre farm in Mount Pleasant. The Hallowichs received a $750,000 settlement.