The oil and gas company that settled a federal lawsuit this week over years of underpaid royalties was hit earlier this year with a nearly $700,000 jury verdict in a livestock damages lawsuit.

Somont Oil, located 20 miles north of Shelby, was ordered to pay $697,671 plus interest after 156 barrels of crude oil spilled on its land and killed and sickened a neighbor’s cattle.

Taña and Curt Stene sued Somont over the 2014 oil spill, saying it caused 11 cows and eight calves to die, 24 calves to be aborted, at least 57 others to become sick and some calves to be born underweight or unhealthy.

The Stenes said the company was doing fence work at the time and failed to keep a proper barrier in place, allowing the cattle to make it onto their property and eat oil-soaked vegetation and drink oil-contaminated water.

Somont in turn pointed the finger at CHS, which operated the Somont wells, saying the operators must have left a valve unsecured on the oil tank, leading to the spill.

After a jury trial in July, Somont’s claims against CHS were dismissed with prejudice and the company was made to pay CHS $1,166.77, plus interest.

The Stenes could not immediately be reached for comment Friday. Somont owner Charles Jansky declined to return a call seeking comment.

On Monday, Jansky settled a lawsuit with the federal government over unpaid gas royalties at his two companies, Somont Oil Co., and Ferdig Oil Company. The two Toole County companies paid $137,000. 

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