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Oklahoma tribe sues oil companies in tribal court over quake

Buildings in downtown Cushing were damaged after the 5.0 earthquake.

OKLAHOMA CITY – An Oklahoma-based Indian tribe whose historic buildings were damaged last year in the state’s largest recorded earthquake has filed a lawsuit against several oil companies in its own tribal court system.

The Pawnee Nation alleges in the suit filed Friday that wastewater injected into wells operated by the defendants triggered the 5.8-magnitude quake in September that caused extensive damage to some of the tribe’s nearly 100-year-old buildings.

Attorneys representing the 3,200-member tribe in north-central Oklahoma say the lawsuit is the first earthquake-related litigation filed in a tribal court.

The case will be heard in the tribe’s district court with a jury composed of Pawnee Nation members. An appeal could be heard by a five-member tribal Supreme Court, and that decision would be final.