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Sewer Overflow Spurs Lawsuit Against City of Berea

06.18.16 02:50 PM – Andy McDonald

BEREA – A Meadowlark Drive family is suing the city of Berea claiming storm water and sewage has ruined their home and caused a health hazard.

According to Madison County Circuit Court documents, Jimmy Ray Owens and Valerie Ann Owens, of 103 Meadowlark Drive, filed a complaint stemming from the June 2015 flooding of their home.

Specifically, the lawsuit alleges the city of Berea was negligent in allowing too much commercial and residential development in the neighborhood, thus creating a situation in which the Owens’ family home would be subject to excessive flooding. The lawsuit further alleges that the city failed to adequately design drainage and sewer systems to prevent flooding, and that the system is not adequately maintained.

The most recent flooding of the Owens’ property was during the months of January and February 2016, the lawsuit states, but perhaps the worst incident occurred in June, 2015, when the first floor of the house was flooded with approximately 3.5 feet of water. In that incident, sewer water shot out of a manhole by a ditch near the plaintiff’s property and came up from the plaintiff’s toilets, sinks and bathtubs, court documents allege. Flooding also came in their rear door of the home, according to the lawsuit.

Jimmy Ray Owens injured his back while trying to remove the plaintiff’s personal property from the flooding, suffering lost wages, physical and emotional distress, future medical expenses, the suit states.

The complaint also alleges that because storm water and sewer flooded into the plaintiff’s home, the Owens family was exposed to a number of harmful germs, viruses, bacteria, parasites , chemicals, toxins and molds. The home was subsequently tested and harmful molds and toxins were reportedly found to be present, according to documentation accompanying the filing. As a result of said exposure to the biological and chemical agents noted above, plaintiffs will incur medical expenses, physical and emotional distress, lost wages and income, as well as permanent impairment to their ability to labor and earn money, according to the lawsuit.

The entire first floor of the home is uninhabitable, according to court documents, and the plaintiffs are seeking compensation for the loss of their home, moving expenses, and punitive damages.

The Owens family is represented by the Richmond law firm of Luxon, Patterson & Himes.

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