Lawsuit battle over heavy flooding from June, 2021 against DWSD and GLWA continues

For a local business owner, thoughts of the massive rain storm that hit parts of SE Michigan on June 25th of 2021 still feel like a nightmare.

"I’ve been at Verheyden since 1980 and we've experienced multiple rain and snow storms - tremendous," said Brian Joseph, owner Verheyden Funeral Homes. "There was nothing like this."

The damage at two of his funeral homes, one in Grosse Pointe Park and another one in southwest Detroit, still haunt him two years later.

"Our Grosse Pointe Park location is completely underground and that was catastrophic," he said.

A class action lawsuit filed by Ven Johnson Law on behalf of property owners like Joseph was dismissed in March primarily because of governmental immunity.

"We then filed a motion for reconsideration which is still pending," said Paul Doherty, attorney with Ven Johnson Law. "Once the judge rules on that, most of those frankly, are denied. Once that’s denied we will take an appeal to the Michigan Court of Appeals."

The lawsuit is against a number of parties including The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department and the Great Lakes Water Authority.

It states that in June of 2021, two Great Lakes Water Authority pump stations did not work properly during heavy rains which led to massive flooding and despite all the damage, no one is being held accountable.

"That’s why we’re going to keep fighting - we want our day in court with the evidence, however long that takes us," Doherty said.

The wait continues as victims are still working to recover with little help from insurance companies.

"We had $25,000 for each location," Joseph said. "We had a business to run, and we had to go back to the bank to get a million-dollar loan."

Many homeowners still dealing with the impact of the flooding as they try to restore their basements.

"We’ve spent about $150,000 so far, of our own money," said Douglas Bulka, flood victim.

Now when a major rainfall is in the forecast, he says it’s hard to trust that the system will work.

FOX 2: "Do you cringe?"

"Yes, every time it rains," said Bulka.

The Great Lakes Water Authority sent a statement which reads in part:

"That an independent investigative team concluded that, heavy and historic rainfalls exceeded the design capacity of the regional wastewater system, making surface flooding and basement backups inevitable."
DWSD also reacted with a statement saying it was pleased the judge dismissed the class action lawsuits.

It went on to say the judge’s decision, "Allows us to focus our attention on continuing to build capacity in the combined sewer system and reduce weather-related basement backups in our city. We anticipate the appeal filed by the plaintiffs will have a similar outcome."

The victims in this case say despite the actions of the court they still hope for justice.

"If the courts want to play their game that’s okay go ahead and play it," Joseph said. "But I’m optimistic and I'm very confident."