By David Fleet
A class action filed almost six years ago has been dismissed by a Genesee County judge.
On Jan. 3, Circuit Court Judge Richard Yuille dismissed the lawsuit filed on July 25, 2014 by Flint Attorney Dean T. Yeotis.
The class action was filed in the Seventh Circuit Court for a group of Village of Goodrich residents, along with three Genesee County businesses, charging four counts surrounding the village sewage system, drains and mill pond. The plaintiffs’ series of complaints were seeking monetary damages in excess of $25,000.
The claims, in part of five individual plaintiffs will remain in effect. However, claims against the village have been dismissed.
In addition to the Village of Goodrich, the Genesee County Drain Commissioner, Division of Surface Water Management, Division of Water and Waste Services and Goodrich Country Club were also defendants in the suit.
The four counts included sewage disposal system defect claims, unlawful taking of property as a result of damages caused by the sewer system, a negligence claim against the Goodrich Country Club regarding a culvert under Ridge Road used to provide irrigation for the golf course, and unlawful trespass of water claim against the Goodrich Country Club that caused damage.
The suit claimed the defendants failed to timely correct defective conditions with regard to the sewers, drains and the mill pond. The results of the defects allegedly caused damages to the plaintiffs’ homes and businesses when untreated sewage and storm water backed up into their dwellings.
Issues with the Goodrich area drains began about eight years ago allegedly caused by the Wheelock & Watkins Drain. The agricultural drain, built in about 1890s, encompasses a large section of the village, impacting about 100 residents. The old drain under the jurisdiction of Genesee County had been one possible cause of flooding of several residents’ homes over the past few years.
The suit also claimed the operation of the Goodrich Mill Pond and dam have substantial defects, including a lack of routine maintenance, inadequate repairs and upgrades, misallocation of funding, inappropriate and untrained operational staff, a significant lack of capacity and negligent design.
In October 2014 U.S. Specialty Insurance Co., denied the village coverage for expenses in the class action. Since that time, village attorney McKinney had been counsel in the lawsuit. McKenney was paid per hour for his work which is part of the village budget.
However, in April 2018 a check for $58,494.32 was received as reimbursement for the growing legal fees from the ongoing lawsuit. Village officials said that soon as the attorney for the plaintiffs took out the words ‘sanitary sewer,’ they (the insurance company) decided to take over the case.
Under the new agreement the insurance company will cover all bills from McKenney and reimburse the fee already paid along with costs since the case started.