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Gas-well impact civil trial opens in Fayette

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

A civil trial in which a Florida woman is seeking $400,000 in damages she claims a gas-well operation caused to her property began on Tuesday in Fayette County.

Nona Chubboy of Tierra Verda, Fla., named Atlas Noble as the sole defendant in the 2005 lawsuit. In the complaint filed by her attorney, Mark Mehalov of Uniontown, Chubboy claims Atlas caused excessive damage by timbering, quarrying limestone and removing topsoil when it installed four wells on 94 acres of land she owns in Franklin Township.

The company contends it limited the amount of work it did on the property to only what was necessary to construct the wells, according to court documents.

Chubboy testified she was aware trees would have to be cut to make way for the wells when she signed a lease with Atlas in 2003, but not to the extent that occurred.

“Not like a football field,” Chubboy testified. “I mean, come on.”

Chubboy contends nine acres of trees were removed, which according to the complaint represented two-thirds of the marketable trees on the property. Although Atlas' attorney, Bradley Tupi of Pittsburgh, produced two checks indicating Chubboy was paid $10,000 for the trees, Chubboy alleged Atlas “stole” the trees.

In the complaint, Mehalov indicated it will cost $250,000 to repair damage caused by removal of the trees, sandstone and topsoil. Tree stumps were left behind, according to the lawsuit, and sinkholes and erosion occurred when the sandstone and topsoil were removed.

In addition, Chubboy testified an access road the company built on the property is in the wrong location. Although Tupi pointed out she did not specify where the road was to be placed when she signed the lease, Chubboy testified she had an oral agreement on its location.

In addition to the property damage, Chubboy contends in the lawsuit that Atlas has not paid her royalty payments on the wells.

The trial is to resume Wednesday before Judge John F. Wagner Jr.

Liz Zemba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166.

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