Last week’s ruling by a Susquehanna County judge in the case of the Dimock Twp. man once identified as the voice and face of the anti-fracking movement has helped narrow the focus of the breach of contract lawsuit energy giant Cabot Gas filed against him two years ago.
In 2017, Cabot Oil & Gas Corp., of Houston, Texas, sued Raymond Kemble, of Dimock Twp., for bad mouthing the company in violation of an agreement he signed as part of a settlement in an earlier lawsuit against Cabot for polluting his property.
In its lawsuit against Kemble, Cabot alleged that Missouri-based lawyer Charles Speer teamed up with Pennsylvania attorneys Clancy Boylan and Edward Ciaramboli in 2012 to commence nuisance claims against natural gas operators in Pennsylvania. Cabot sued Kemble after the attorneys’ lawsuit was dismissed as frivolous earlier that year.
But as a result of a ruling by President Judge Jason Legg last week, those attorneys may not now use the traditional attorney client privilege to avoid answering questions about their representation of Kemble, normally an area off-limits to inquiry.
Legg issued a similar ruling towards what is known as the work product privilege, writing “the work product privilege does not apply to this litigation as the underlying question becomes the knowledge and state of mind of the attorney defendants in connection with the filing of the 2017 litigation.”
The content of their advice, conversations and research with Kemble could be crucial to Cabot’s lawsuit as Kemble has denied knowing of, or consenting to the filing of that lawsuit.
In documents filed in court, the attorney defendants had sought to use the privilege to shield themselves from answering questions regarding their representation of him.
“It seems pretty clear that he’s basically placing all the blame on your clients, isn’t he?” Legg told an attorney for the lawyers in court last week.
Attorneys for Kemble and the attorney defendants did not respond to an e-mail request for comment.
Cabot attorney Amy L. Barrette has accused Kemble’s attorneys of dragging their feet in not complying with court orders to produce documents and other information for use in preparation for any eventual trial. Barrette has previously described the Kemble lawsuit as having been filed “with the purpose of harassing Cabot and extorting money from Cabot.”
“To date, the lawyer defendants have continued to stall and delay discovery, refusing to respond and ignoring Court orders directing them to respond,” Barrette wrote.
Legg ordered the attorney defendants to respond to Cabot’s requests within 30 days.
In his deposition, Kemble also admitted under questioning that he knowingly violated the non-disparagement agreement he had signed months before. In the deposition Kemble acknowledges the settlement amount as $133,109. That amount had previously been reported as over $180,000.
“Q. Okay. And you’re basically saying screw it, you don’t care, you’re gonna stand up and talk regardless of whether there’s a gag order, correct?”
In other deposition testimony, Kemble also admitted that he did not write or even read statements attributed to him in formal complaints filed with various state officials announced at a February 2018 press conference in Dimock. Kemble also claimed that his postal mail and e-mail were intercepted by a former associate of his who organized that press conference, William Huston of Binghamton, N.Y., whom Kemble repeatedly described as “crazy.”
“I never read this dang thing what Bill did and stuff, you know, so I’m not sure what’s all in it,” Kemble said.
While Huston is not named as a defendant in Cabot’s action against Kemble, his name figures prominently in Cabot’s litigation against Kemble. In March, Legg ruled that Huston, a self-styled self-taught legal advisor and anti-drilling blogger, could take his deposition in New York, but when that date arrived Huston did not appear. Cabot lawyers continue to seek his testimony.
In a telephone interview Monday, Huston angrily lashed out at Kemble, calling his accusations “lies.”
Calling Kemble “ungrateful,” Huston, who repeatedly described himself as being “really upset,” said that any time he accessed Kemble’s e-mail account would have been with Kemble’s knowledge and approval.
“All lies. I devoted my life to him for 20 months,” Huston said.
Huston said that the last he had heard of his deposition was that Cabot had “called it off” and that he had no interest in sitting for one.
“I have nothing to do with this case,” he said.
In February, Craig Stevens, another Kemble associate not named as a defendant in the Cabot lawsuit but whose testimony was acquired by Cabot, acknowledged in his deposition to receiving over $25,000 from the Washington, D.C. anti-fracking group Food and Water Watch for public speaking events.
According to exhibits entered into the record of the case, Kemble received over $13,000 in payments from Water Defense of New York between May and October of 2012 for water deliveries to neighbors with contaminated wells. Kemble also received over $3,000 for repairs to the 1995 vintage water truck from Food and Water Watch in 2014 alone.
Stevens frequently appeared alongside Kemble at anti-fracking events where Kemble would sometimes display a large jug of putrid looking water.
Cabot’s filing of the lawsuit two summers ago – which originally contained a since stricken $5 million demand – received widespread media attention in which Kemble, who has endured serious health issues over the last two years, was portrayed as a lone David and Goliath figure facing off against the giant fracking industry.