Law firm to file class-action lawsuit for flood damage against Detroit area water authorities

Ven Johnson Law says it is preparing to file a class-action lawsuit in Wayne County Circuit Court for flooding in Metro Detroit from the June 26 torrential rain.

In a statement released Tuesday, the law firm says it has been retained by property owners in Detroit and Grosse Pointe to pursue damages against local water and sewer authorities. Among those named, including the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, which the city of Grosse Pointe Park blames for the flooding, the statement said.

"DWSD takes in nearly half of a billion dollars in water and sewer fees annually, yet aging water and sewer lines under their purview regularly fail, devastating anything and everything caught in the path of these floodwaters," said Paul Doherty, attorney at Ven Johnson Law, and flood victim in the release. "Local residents are at the mercy of faceless local bureaucrats who literally put their constituents’ safety at risk by not investing in proper infrastructure. This flooding has upended lives causing stress and a feeling of powerlessness, and a huge financial strain of rebuilding homes or businesses."  

Ven Johnson  Law said that in an advisory from the Grosse Pointe Park Police, it was reported that approximately seven inches of rain fell within three hours in the late hours of Friday, June 25.

"Around 1 a.m. on June 26, Conner Creek Pump Station in Detroit, which is owned by DWSD, failed, resulting in major flooding in eastern Wayne County communities," the firm says.

Sue McCormick, GLWA Chief Executive Officer has said in a previous press conference that the pump station did not fail, but "suffered operational challenges" and was overwhelmed by the amount of rainfall in so short a time.

One of those challenges was a loss of power at Conner Creek she said.

"The pump station lost, what we call, 'house power' - building lights, access gates, control system," McCormick said, adding that the Freud Pump Station also suffered similar challenges.

The Ven Johnson statement recalled the catastrophic flooding of August 2014 when five inches of rain overwhelmed the region.

"Residents who have sustained water damage following recent flooding can take immediate steps to protect their rights," the statement said, requesting all of them file a Sewage Disposal System Event Notice Claim form within 45 days from the sewer backup with all potentially responsible parties listed, document all losses with inventories and pictures, check with homeowners’ insurance carriers for water and sewer back up coverage and get at least two estimates for repairs.