A reporter who covers the energy beat for a Pittsburgh NPR-affiliated radio station obtained a copy of a confidential settlement involving Stacey Haney, but a Washington County judge enjoined him and others from revealing its contents.
Reid Frazier, reporter for The Allegheny Front, StateImpact Pennsylvania and WESA 90.FM, Pittsburgh, intended to reveal sealed contents from the case, but he was halted by an order from Washington County President Judge Katherine B. Emery.
According to her order, she was made aware of Frazier’s pending news story Thursday morning by attorneys for Haney and Range Resources-Appalachia LLC.
Emery, who is also presiding over a case filed by attorneys for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which is demanding access to the confidential settlement, scheduled a hearing on the matter involving the radio station for Tuesday.
Washington County Prothonotary Joy Schury Ranko attributed the circumstances to a software glitch that obscured the document from view within the court system but, she said, “unbeknownst to us,” allowed it to remain on view to those using the OnBase system available to the public.
“You can bet it won’t happen again,” said Ranko, who notified both the the county’s information technology department and its vendor.
Emery ordered documents in Haney’s case, which alleged she and her children were harmed by chemicals leaking from Range’s Yeager impoundment in Amwell Township, to be sealed on Aug. 30, 2018.
Haney’s quest was the subject of a Pulitzer-Prize winning book this spring by Ellen Griswold, “Amity and Prosperity: One Family and the Fracturing of America.” Other plaintiffs in the 2012 case were John and Ashley Voyles and Grace and Loren Kiskadden.
The newspaper learned earlier this year that state Attorney General Josh Shapiro had convened a grand jury to hear testimony on “several criminal investigations involving environmental crimes in Washington County.”
StateImpact Pennsylvania is a collaboration among WITF Harrisburg; WHYY Philadelphia; and WESA, which broadcasts its Allegheny Front program on Pennsylvania environmental issues twice weekly.
WESA’s News Director Patrick Doyle responded to an emailed request for comment with the message, “We don’t have a comment at this time.”