Hundreds of property owners have contacted a Kansas attorney about filing a tort claim against the Grand River Dam Authority - many of whom have signed as clients in a planned class-action lawsuit, the attorney said last week.
Larry Bork, a Topeka, Kan., lawyer who successfully argued a 1994 class-action suit against GRDA involving more than 100 flood victims from Ottawa County, said an estimated 385 victims of the July 2007 flood expressed interest in filing a claim.
Many have become clients while others called to inform the attorney that they had filed claims for damages.
Bork said he will request a class be certified for the impact of the Pensacola Dam and its operation on the flooding that devastated the Miami area.
Though the window for filing a tort, or trespass, claim for damages in the July 2007 flooding has closed, Bork said there are still opportunities for victims to find relief in a lesser degree.
“There are (other) theories, i.e. damage to private property by a governmental entity, that has a 3-year statute of limitations. People can still have claims, just not (trespass) claims for the July 2007 flooding,” Bork said. “New people can still be plaintiffs and still win, they just won't have as many claims and remedies as the ones who filed tort claims.”
GRDA did not respond to an e-mailed request for confirmation that its office has received a stream of tort claims related to the July 2007 flooding.
A representative of the state Office of Central Services said Friday that the office has received notification of tort claims filed against GRDA, but did not have a specific number of details could not be confirmed at that time.
David Anderson, attorney for the City of Miami, said last week that he has submitted a tort claim on behalf of the city.
The city has not yet committed to entering litigation against GRDA, but did agree to pay up to $300,000 for a study of the 2007 flood.
Bork said he does expect the findings of the 2007 flood study to be similar to the determinations found in studies of prior floods.
“There is not much that has changed in the physical contours of the flooding that occurred in the 1980s and the 2007 flooding,” Bork said during a recent town meeting led by his office.
The study will, according to Bork, be a tool to define who can file a claim.
Some preliminary work has been done in the study of the July 2007 flood, according to Bork.
“We have contacted an engineer regarding the study and some preliminary work, collecting data and topography information, has been done.
Nothing has been finalized and the team has not yet been assembled.
“The team will be completed and modeling will begin within the next month or so,” Bork said.
The study will include modeling, data collection, calibration and mapping.
Bork estimated that it will take 60 to 90 days to complete the project.