OPINION ISSUED NOVEMBER 14, 1985
JACK D. PORTER AND JACQUELINE L. PORTER CAUDILL
DEPARTMENT OF HIGHWAYS
Claimant, Jacqueline L. Porter Caudill, appeared in person.
Nancy J. Aliff, Attorney at Law, for respondent.
The claimants, father and daughter, seek an award of $10,020.00.
This is the total amount of a project proposed by a contractor and
Block wall construction $6,870.00
Existing Driveway Drain Relocation 550.00
Excess Dirt Removal on the Lawn 420.00
Compacted Asphalt Gutter Between the
Existing Road and the New Wall 1,500.00
Cleanup and Stone Placement for the
Gutter and Wall 680.00
Their property is located on County Route 7, also known as Spring
Valley Drive, in Wayne County. Jacqueline L. Porter Caudill is the
owner of the property. Her father, Jack D. Porter, has a dower
interest. The property consists of two lots, and a house which was
built around 1936 or 1937. The house faces to the South, onto
Spring Valley Drive. To the west and north of the property lies
Spring Valley Circle, also known as County Route 7/9, which circles
up the hillside behind claimant's property. The claimants allege
water damage to their property due to the failure of respondent to
maintain adequate ditching and drainage in the area.
Claimant, Jacqueline L. Porter Caudill, testified that there is
water runoff from Spring Valley Circle which crosses the property
during hard rains. A storm sewer runs from the north side of Spring
Valley Circle, across the property and connects with another
drainpipe which crosses under Spring Valley Drive. Claimant
testified that the sewer is inadequate, causing water to flow over
the road and onto her land. Claimant testified that she does not
know who constructed the existing drainage system.
Jonathan M. Fowler, a professional engineer, examined the property
in question for the claimants. He testified that in his opinion,
the inadequate storm sewer was the major cause of the damage to
claimants' property. He also stated that inadequate ditch lines on
Spring Valley Circle aggravated the problem. He stated that the owner of the lot across Spring Valley Circle from the claimants had
graded his lot to the edge of the pavement, and that there was no
ditch line there. Other factors contributing to the problem
included increased development in the area of claimants' property
and the land's location in a natural drainage area.
James Robert Campbell, an engineer employed by respondent,
testified that while the ditch lines were not well maintained, the
primary causes of claimants' water problems were the location of
the land in a natural drainage area, and the inadequately designed
storm sewer on claimants' property. He stated that he could find no
record as to when or by whom the sewer was installed.
In view of the evidence presented, the Court can find no basis to
hold the respondent liable for claimants' damages. The expert
witnesses testified that the primary cause of the water flowing
onto the land, the low point of some eleven acres, was the
inability of the storm sewer to carry the surface water away. No
evidence was presented to establish that the sewer was either
designed or maintained by respondent.
It is not the function of this Court to make an award for such a
proposed project. Rather, this Court considers damages incurred,
and if incurred by reason of some act or omission of a State
agency, then an appropriate award may be made. This is not a claim
for such damages. Although evidence was presented that flowing
surface water had damaged claimants' yard and had flooded the
basement of claimants' dwelling house, no evidence was presented of
the amount of monetary damages to the claimants' property.
Accordingly, the Court is of opinion to disallow the claim.