Madison - St. Clair Record

Monday, December 9, 2019

MESD director calls suit over Granite City flooding political; Plaintiffs claim in excess of $50K in damages each

State Court

By The Madison County Record | Nov 19, 2019


EDWARDSVILLE – Six Granite City residents claim Metro East Sanitary District failed to protect their properties from the storm of Aug. 12. 

They sued the district in Madison County Circuit Court on Nov. 12, claiming damage in excess of $50,000 at each of four addresses. 

Casey Ashby alleges damage at 4 Country Lane Court. 

Nick Huniak alleges damage at 2567 Westmoreland Avenue. 

Jason Goetter and Ashley Goetter allege damage at 2900 Saratoga Street. 

Michael Genovese and Donna Genovese allege damage at 1620 Mitchell Avenue. 

Attorney Randy Gori of Edwardsville, known more for filing asbestos lawsuits, filed the petition for the Granite City property owners along with Chris Layloff and Ron Motil, both of Gori’s firm. 

According to the suit, the district is charged to construct, maintain and operate drains, conduits, treatment plants, pumps, ditches and channels. 

The district is accused of negligence for allegedly failing to prevent accumulation and blockage of silt and debris in the flow gates of Cahokia Canal, failing to prevent accumulation of silt, debris, grass and weeds in ditches, canals, flow grates, culverts, outlets and pipes and failing to properly staff, schedule, and operate pump stations. 

In the suit, Gori wrote that the district didn’t operate pump stations pursuant to guidelines of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 

He wrote that it failed to respond to requests for maintenance, inspection, and repair of drainage pipes.

On Aug. 12, storm water and raw sewage backed up into homes of the plaintiffs causing damage and monetary loss to real and personal property, causing them to spend money for cleaning, sanitation, and remediation. 

They allegedly suffered damage and destruction to property that had great sentimental value, depreciation in the value of their real property and personal injuries and mental distress. 

Gori wrote that they spent money for replacement of real and personal property. 

Along with negligence Gori asserted counts of “res ipsa loquitur,” which means the thing speaks for itself. 

He wrote that in the normal course of events, backups wouldn’t have occurred in the absence of negligence on the district’s part or if it had used ordinary care. 

He also wrote that plaintiffs didn’t contribute to the backups. 

Real estate websites estimate values for all four properties above the local median, and all four rank above average in outside appearance. 

The Goetter property on Saratoga lies a short distance west of Horseshoe Lake. 

It features a cozy porch with furniture and decorations, and a two car garage. 

The Huniak property on Westmoreland, west of Legacy golf course, features a big brick house on a big corner lot with a pool. 

The Ashby property on Country Lane Court lies on a cul de sac off Johnson Road. 

The Genovese property on Mitchell lies east of the viaduct carrying Pontoon Road over Nameoki Road. 

Genovese, in an interview at his door on Nov. 15, said he had four feet of water in his basement. 

He said he went to the basement because he heard his freezer running loudly. 

“The washer and the dryer were floating,” Genovese said. “We lost tubs of photographs….Pontoon Road was flooded. They blocked off the viaduct.” 

Sanitary district director Steve Adler, an appointee of county board chairman Kurt Prenzler responded by branding the suit as an attempt to remove him. 

Adler issued a statement that Gori’s firm filed it because Prenzler was removing Motil from the separate Southwestern Illinois Flood Protection District. 

“The flooding in Granite City was the result of a nine-inch deluge which the Metro East Sanitary District system handled as well as it could,” Adler stated in response to the suit. 

He wrote that flooding was restricted to specific neighborhoods with specific storm and sanitary sewers that overflowed for a variety of reasons. 

Adler indicated that the City of Granite City could expect to be joined in the litigation.

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Metr-East Sanitary Dist.(MESD)

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