WAYNE - Twenty-three Wayne County families have filed suit against the City of Huntington, claiming the city is to blame for damage that occurred when a backed up storm drain caused flooding to their property in 2006.

Charleston attorney John W. Barrett filed the suit July 3 in Wayne Circuit Court against the City of Huntington.

The plaintiffs are residents of Spring Valley Drive and Waco Road in Huntington. According to the suit, their property was flooded in July and August 2006 after a storm drain for Krouts Creek became clogged.

According to the suit, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built the storm water drainage system in 2001, which modified an existing culvert and storm drain.

Part of the modification included installing a trash rack on a culvert under a bridge along James River Road. The trash rack consisted of several long metal poles, spaced about a foot apart, extending from the top of the culvert to the bottom.

The purpose of the rack was to prevent debris in the stream from entering the culvert and clogging the drainage system, the suit says. To function properly, it required routine maintenance and clearing so that water could flow through.

Construction on the rack was completed in December 2005 and Huntington assumed ownership sometime before 2006. Part of the responsibilities included clearing it out.

According to the suit, heavy rains fell July 13 and 14, 2006. Water from the storm washed tree branches and other debris into the trash rack. The debris piled on top of other debris that was previously there.

"The City failed to clear the debris from the trash rack before the July 13-14 storm and during the storm," the suit says. "This caused the trash rack to act as a dam, and waters in Krouts Creek began to back up and run onto the Plaintiffs' properties and into their homes and cars."

Another storm passed through the area Aug. 30 and 31, 2006, which washed more debris down Krouts Creek and piled more on the trash rack, which was still clogged from the previous storm. Water again flooded the homes in the area.

The suit says work crews from Huntington cleared the debris and the floodwaters receded.

"Thereafter, the City began to more regularly clear the trash rack of debris when heavy rains occurred," the suit says. "Since the City began its more regular maintenance, the Plaintiffs' homes have not been flooded, despite several heavy rainfalls."

The plaintiffs' claim the city has no excuse for failing to maintain the storm drain and trash rack.

In the five-count suit, the plaintiffs' claim the City "created an ultra-hazardous and an abnormally dangerous condition" and the flood waters posed a high degree of risk and harm.

The water also directly and proximately caused damages to the plaintiffs' property.

The plaintiffs seek unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

The plaintiffs named in the suit are: John and Sherry Bailey, Brian and Evangeline Bradley, Jennie L. Brooks, Dale and Jaime Campbell, Jeffrey R. Gregg, Betty and Roy Gwilliams, Deborah K. Hodge, individually and as administrator of the estate of Carolyn Meadows, James and Sarah Hudson, Jr., Elma and Donzie Kaylor, Elda Ann Keefer, James G. Layne, Mark Lazar, Deborah L. Lucas, Justin Lucas, Brian and Sarah Mayo, Dan and June McGlone, Don and Sherri Napier, Mary Sue Salyers, Sarah Stephens, David Stamper, Grace and Frederick Wells, Mayme White, and Rebecca White.

Wayne Circuit Court case number 08-C-185

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