County files suit over sinkholes

  • Friday, November 8, 2013

Georgetown leaders have said since 2011 the city was not responsible for the 2011 sinkholes that completely leveled one building and damaged many others.
However, Georgetown County officials may believe the city bears at least some of the blame because it has named the city as one of the defendants in a lawsuit it has filed because of millions of dollars in damage the sinkholes caused to county property.
The other defendants are Davis and Floyd, Inc., Republic Contracting Corp., and the South Carolina Department of Transportation.
The suit says the damages to county buildings began on Oct. 29, 2011 and continued thereafter because of the drainage project taking place around Georgetown City Hall.
The drainage work, which included removing vast amounts of water from underground, “altered the water tables and caused sinkholes and land subsidence,” the suit states.
The city and the SCDOT hired Republic Contracting to serve as the general contractor. Davis and Floyd was the engineering firm.
The county said the defendants “failed to conduct any  tests or analysis…in order to establish proper depth to which the pilings would need to be driven.”
The suit says because that testing did not take place, the pilings were not driven deep enough which led to the formation of the sinkholes.
The suit also maintains the defendants did not set up a system to monitor and analyze the flow and quantity of water being removed from underground.
The county said the dewatering process continued even after the defendants knew water was being removed from outside the intended areas.
The county property is located outside the areas where water was supposed to be removed.
Sinkholes formed under the county buildings causing more than $6 million in damages.
“It was foreseeable that if the dewatering activities drew significant water from outside the isolation area for an extended period of time, this would adversely affect the aquifer system below the properties,” the suit states.
Wesley Bryant, the county attorney, said the reason the city was named as a defendant is because the damaged buildings are in the city limits. He said the county “would be remiss…to not preserve every right it may have in terms of recovery.”
Georgetown Mayor Jack Scoville said again Thursday he does not feel the city bears any responsibility for the sinkholes.
“The City expects to be dismissed from this and the other lawsuits in due time,” Scoville said.
A separate suit was filed by the county against the S.C. Insurance Reserve Fund. The county says it submitted a claim in November 2011 but the insurance provider has not accepted or denied the claim.
Lawsuits have previously been filed by Tony and Debbie Jordan, who owned Parrish Place on North Fraser Street; Georgetown Auto Parts and Landy’s Cleaners which was located at 119 and 125 North Fraser St.; Biz Vestors, LLC of 213 Dozier St.; Deep Enterprise, LLC of 238 North Fraser St.; Sam’s Furniture Warehouse at 219 Dozier St.; and Bret Phillips, a homeowner at 1201 Prince St.

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