CHARLESTON – A couple is suing the Sanitary Board of the City of Charleston after they claim a sewer line project caused them a loss of property value.

The City of Charleston; West Virgnina-American Water Company; Burgess & Niple Inc.; and Pipe Plus Inc. also were named as defendants in the suit.

In fall 2014, Bruce Holsclaw and Susan Holsclaw discovered the hillside south of their house showed signs of instability, subsidence, cracking or sliding as the result of unstable earth conditions which necessitated the plaintiffs to remove their property from the sales market, according to a complaint filed in Kanawha Circuit Court.

The Holsclaws claim the unstable earth conditions rapidly progressed, parallel to the base of the foundation and accelerated so that there is settlement of earth near the home and threatens the stability and safety of their home of 24 years.

As a result of the unstable land conditions, it will not be habitable and, in any event, the instability is so severe that future remediation would not prevent further sliding nor prevent the future destruction of the property, according to the suit.

The Holsclaws claim the sliding and instability is the result of the defendants excavating a trench parallel to the house and below, which removed the "toe of the slope," and which is well-known as the cause or contributing factor in landslides and did so without taking any precautions to prevent a landslide.

The defendants also did not adequately assess the hillside for stability or for means or methods to avoid a landslide or slip from instability resulting from extensive construction and excavation at the location, according to the suit.

The Holsclaws claim that the defendants were each negligent and careless in the design, construction or maintenance of the sewer project in that they violated basic and acceptable safety standards of design, construction and maintenance of sewer line installation while engaged in the sewer project.

The Holsclaws are seeking compensatory and punitive damages. They are being represented by Guy R. Bucci of Bucci, Bailey & Javins LC.

The case is assigned to Circuit Judge Tod J. Kaufman.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 15-C-1283

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