Wednesday, March 27, 2013
The South Carolina Department of Transportation says if human error is to blame for the sinkholes that formed in Georgetown in 2011, the fault is not with them but with others working on the city’s drainage project.
The SCDOT is one of the defendants in lawsuits filed by some impacted by the sinkholes.
In the lawsuits, which were filed in January, the plaintiffs allege the sinkholes were caused by the dewatering activities associated with the drainage project that the SCDOT is still working on around Georgetown City Hall.
At one point water was being removed from the ground at a rate of 60,000 gallons per hour.
The dewatering “altered the water tables and caused land subsidence,” the suit states. “[The] defendants knew or should have known the inherent risks of damage to structures above ground by an uncontrolled dewatering process.”
The defendants in the lawsuits, besides SCDOT, are Davis & Floyd Engineering, S&ME and Republic Contracting. The City of Georgetown is named in all but one of the suits.
In its response to the lawsuits, attorneys for SCDOT say any injury or damage was “due to and caused by the sole, intervening and/or superseding negligence of a co-defendant” which the SCDOT “had no control.”
If a dangerous condition existed SCDOT “had no constructive notice” of that condition.
“Any or all work or services which [SCDOT] provided met all construction industry customs, practices and standards,” the response states.
SCDOT says “in the event the facts alleged are true,” the problems “were caused by the negligence, breach of contract and breach of warranties of Davis & Floyd, Republic and S&ME.”
The state agency claims the other companies working on the drainage project:
n Failed to adequately perform, inspect, supervise and monitor the work.
n Failed to utilize the proper equipment
n Failed to hire, train and supervise competent contractors, agents and others to perform the job.
“Davis & Floyd expressly and impliedly warranted the plans and specifications,” the response continues.
If SCDOT is found to be liable and is ordered to pay the plaintiffs, it is asking the court for an automatic judgment against Davis & Floyd, Republic and S&ME for the cost to the SCDOT.
S&ME gets a continuance
S&ME, in its response to the suits, is asking to be dropped as a defendant saying they did nothing to cause the problems.
S&ME was scheduled to appear in court Friday to present its reasons for wanting to be removed from the defendants list. However, a judge agreed to postpone the hearing to another date which has not yet been set.
By Scott Harper
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