Cabot Oil & Gas Corp v. Scroggins

Topic(s): 
First Amendment
Protecting Constitutional Rights and Requirements
Press Releases:
Case Description: 

Vera Scroggins is a citizen-journalist and political advocate who protests and documents the activities of gas companies engaged in fracking and related gas-extraction operations in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania. Ms. Scroggins takes photographs and records video, gives tours to visitors, and testifies before state regulators to educate people about the dangers of fracking. One of the gas companies operating in the area, Cabot, sued Ms. Scroggins for trespass and obtained a preliminary injunction barring Ms. Scroggins from all properties in the county where Cabot has a lease to extract gas from under the surface of the land – including the homes of some of Ms. Scroggins friends, her grocery store, auto mechanic, recycling center, and even the hospital closest to her home. Because Ms. Scroggins was not given a list of the properties from which she was banned, she is not even sure where she is and is not permitted to go.

After the injunction was issued, Public Citizen, working with co-counsel Gerald Kinchy and counsel at the ACLU of Pennsylvania, stepped in to represent Ms. Scroggins and to seek to have the injunction vacated against Ms. Scroggins because it is overbroad and violates Ms. Scroggins’ constitutional rights to freedom of speech and freedom of movement. On March 28, 2014, the judge substantially narrowed the injunction by lifting the restrictions on properties that Cabot merely passively leases (without any active operations); the revised order applies only to Cabot-owned property, its active operations, and its access roads.