Fracking Foe’s Billboard Signs Will Come Down

 

—These billboards are at the center of an Ohio lawsuit against a local man who opposes fracking and related activities.

—These billboards are at the center of an Ohio lawsuit against a local man who opposes fracking and related activities.

An Ohio opponent of fracking and activities relating to shale oil and gas has been sued in state court by a deep well injection company and its on-site manager. As I wrote last week for Midwest Energy News, the case to force him to remove two billboard signs fits into a broader pattern.

Various citizen groups and advocates feel that public agencies and private companies are not listening to concerns about the rapid expansion of shale gas activities in the state. More detail about the lawsuit is available here: http://www.midwestenergynews.com/2014/08/21/critics-see-ohio-lawsuit-as-part-of-bigger-picture-to-silence-fracking-foes/.

Now it seems that fracking foe Mike Bolls will have to take down the billboard signs after all—and without any court ruling in the case. Bolls says the owner of the billboards has given him until September 9 to remove the signs.

The reason, Bolls says, is pressure on the owners from lawyers for the injection well company. According to Bolls, the company threatened to add the billboard owner to the lawsuit if they did not terminate the contract.

Bolls notes that the billboard owner and his wife are both in their 70s. “They’re just not wanting to go through the battle of having to fight a court case at their age,” Bolls says.

The contract with Bolls was a month-to-month oral arrangement, so Bolls says he won’t get any money damages or refund as a result of the early termination. But Bolls speculates that other billboard owners could lose money if anyone who was offended by a sign could get it down with the threat of a lawsuit. People would be less likely to rent billboards, he reasons.

Taking down the signs won’t automatically make the pending lawsuit go away. For one thing, the complaint’s request for injunctive relief goes further than that. Moreover, the plaintiffs have also sought an unspecified amount of punitive and compensatory damages.

Whether they will proceed with the case remains to be seen, however. And Bolls says he wouldn’t change anything he’s done.

“I would not have done anything different,” he says. “I believe the message is true.”

 

 

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