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Published: Sunday, 12/10/2006

82 residents added to Toledo flood suit

BY TOM TROY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Bazzo Bazzo
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A legal team focusing on floods that damaged homes in West Toledo during the summer has added 82 residents to its suit accusing the city and several private businesses of poor design and/or neglect of the Shantee Creek drain system.

The suit claims the "water invasions" resulted from bad engineering decisions. Some homes had 8 feet of water that collapsed basement walls.

Phillip Bazzo, a Detroit attorney who is co-counsel in the case, said the city should act immediately to prevent more flooding by installing sluice gates and a temporary dam in Bowman Park to hold water. He said Bowman and Dibble parks, west of Jackman, could have held 100 times more water than what was stored during the flood.

City spokesman Brian Schwartz said Friday no one would respond to Mr. Bazzo's comments regarding Bowman Park because the matter is in litigation.

Just after the floods, some city officials said the Bowman Park drainage didn't fill up with water as it was supposed to.

Later, Warren Henry, the city's newly hired commissioner of engineering, told Toledo City Council the retention ponds functioned properly but could hold only a fraction of the water that flowed through the creek.

Mr. Henry had been a principal in Finkbeiner Pettis & Strout Inc., which designed parts of the city's drainage system. Finkbeiner Pettis & Strout, now known as Arcadis, was named Friday as a defendant in the class-action suit.

City engineers have said Toledo got record-high levels of rainfall in June and July, which overwhelmed the capacity of the soil and ditches.

Mr. Bazzo said more than 100 homes - including on Burnham, West Capistrano, Crawford, Custer, and West Poinsetta - sustained an average of $50,000 damage each, and many were not insured. At least one person has an injury claim: Tim Kalka of 539 West Crawford Ave. was hospitalized with pneumonia after several days of cleaning mold out of his basement.

Mr. Bazzo and co-counsel Robert Scott of Toledo met with potential plaintiffs Friday and yesterday. The case is filed in Lucas County Common Pleas Court. In addition to Arcadis, the amended complaint filed Friday names as new defendants Norfolk Southern Corp. and BP Pipelines North America Inc. Initial defendants were the city of Toledo, CSX Transportation Inc., Lucas County, and the Lucas County engineer.

Contact Tom Troy at: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058.



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