$9 million

Mayor relieved after $9 million flooding lawsuit dropped

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The town of Amherstburg is no longer facing a $9 million lawsuit in relation to the flooding event which occurred in August 2011.

The suit, filed two years after the flooding occurred, was dropped with the process of dropping the lawsuit beginning with an e-mail sent to the town in March. A report on Monday night’s council agenda indicated that subsequent e-mails have been received since updating the town on the status of the dismissal with the town now signing off on the full and final release.

“The simple answer is relief,” said Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, when asked of his reaction to the lawsuit being dropped. “This is a very large, heavy stone hanging around the town’s neck for many years now.”

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According to a report from clerk Paula Parker, the claim alleged $5 million in general non-pecuniary and aggravated damages for negligence, breach of fiduciary duty and nuisance, $3 million in damages for diminution and loss of property and $1 million in punitive damages making the total cost facing the town and the Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA) $9 million.

“The Town’s insurer only covers general non-pecuniary and aggravated damages for nuisance, breach of fiduciary duty and nuisance. Therefore, if the litigation had been successful, the Town would have only been covered for $5 million,” Parker’s report stated. “Payout for uncovered damages would have been based on percentage of negligence found between the parties to the claim and was unpredictable. The town could have been responsible for an upset limit of $4 million.”

DiCarlo said the $4 million would have had to have been built into future budgets if it had been a judgment that high but noted it could have ranged from zero to $4 million. Due to that unpredictability, there wasn’t anything included in this year’s budget for it.

“That would have been (a) huge (impact) to the tax base,” he noted, of the $4 million potential payout. “It would have been something we would have had to address.”

During the course of the meeting, Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale wondered if the town could recoup any costs and was told by Parker the town had succeeded in doing that.

“This essentially didn’t cost us anything,” DiCarlo said after the meeting.

DiCarlo added this case was the biggest one the town had faced recently but noted there were “two or three” other cases the town had faced that were either dropped or settled in recent months.