The failure of the Edenville Dam and Sanford Dam this week caused the destruction of hundreds of homes and businesses and has completely upended the lives of countless residents. The resulting property loss impacted thousands and individuals’ entire lives have been washed away by the floods.
On May 19, 2020, the Edenville Dam failed, and Lake Wixom, a 2,600-acre reservoir with a gross storage capacity of roughly 40,000 acre-feet of water emptied out behind it. The Sanford Dam, downstream of the Edenveille Dam, also failed that day during heavy flooding on the Tittabawassee and Tobacco rivers.
Boyce Hydro, LLC is a private company that owns both the Edenville and Sanford Dams. The company has a history of ignoring government warnings and safety concerns. In September 2018, citing multiple, unresolved safety problems, including the failure to increase the Edenville Dam’s spillway capacity, the Federal Regulatory Commission (FERC) revoked Boyce’s hydroelectric power generating license for the Edenville Dam.
Since the dams broke, Boyce Hydro is trying to assert blame on the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy for the dam failing, alleging the EGLE pressured it to increase the water level on the reservoir. The EGLE denies this clam.
Either way, families all across Midland, Gladwin and Saginaw counties are suffering deeply for no fault of their own. Boyce Hydro has known for years the dam it owned could not handle a sustained heavy rainfall because its spillway capacity was insufficient. As far back as the late 1990s, the FERC cited spillway capacity issues with the Edenville Dam.
The FERC wanted Boyce Hydro to build additional spillways to reduce the risk of failure and flooding. Yet, owner Lee Mueller ignored these requests because the company simply did not want to spend the money to fix the problem. In fact, the FERC specifically wrote:
Boyce Hydro “has repeatedly failed to comply” with regulators who wanted Mueller to “develop and implement plans and schedules to address the fact that the project spillways are not adequate to pass the probable maximum flood, thereby creating a grave danger to the public.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer, though Executive Order 2020-98, included Arenac, Gladwin and Saginaw counties to the state of emergency declaration already issued for Midland County.
Edenville and Sanford Dams Failure Lawsuit
Individuals who have suffered property damage or personal injury due to the failure of the dams may seek compensation for your loss. For individuals who have suffered property damage, the person can seek recovery of the physical structure that was lost, financial losses to the property or business, and the loss of personal property or other damaged property. Businesses can recover loss of income.
If a personal injury was sustained, the individual can seek compensation for the pain and suffering caused by the negligence in inspecting, maintaining and repairing and dam projects.
It is important for homeowners and business owners to contact their insurance agents to find out what coverages they have, or don’t have, related to flood damage. Most insurance policies have exclusions for floods. For businesses and homes in a flood plain, insurance coverage may be available, but these claims are typically administered by the insurance company through a governmental agency. It is important to get a copy of our homeowners’ or business insurance policy, and to read the contents closely.
These claims have a statute of limitations, allowing only so much time to file a lawsuit against the responsible defendants. In addition, there can be notice requirements that must be timely followed before even a lawsuit can be started.
Contact the Lee Steinberg Law Firm, P.C. for Help with Your Midland Flood Claims
The legal professionals at the Lee Steinberg Law Firm, P.C. are standing by, ready to assist you in your claim for property damage or personal injury. We can review your insurance policy and discuss your legal options. Although we cannot change what happened. we can help put the pieces back together.
And there is no fee for our services unless we win your case. Please contact us at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) for a free consultation.