On August 12, 2013, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette released a copy of the unsealed settlement agreement between the Hallowich family and Range Resources. In March, the Washington County Court of Common Pleas unsealed the settlement agreement because approval of the settlement, which required court approval because minors were a party to it, brought the dispute into court where the common law presumption of public access to the courts applied. Hallowich v. Range Resources Corp., 2013 Pa. Dist. & Cnty. Dec. LEXIS 36 (Pa. C.P. Mar. 20, 2013). Prior to its release, news sources suggested that the gag-order involved in the settlement agreement applied not only to the Hallowich parents, but their children, who were listed as parties in the suit, as well.
The settlement agreement does refer to the “Hallowichs” (Stephanie, wife, Chris, husband, and their children) collectively in its outset. Further, references to the family throughout the agreement are made by the collective “Hallowich” moniker and do not reference the parties individually. The agreement also contains a severability clause that would preserve the remainder of the agreement if a provision were found to be unenforceable and could not be revised to be enforceable by an appropriate court.
Written by: Garrett Lent, Research Assistant
Agricultural Law Resource and Reference Center