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New lawsuit filed in Mid-Michigan dam collapses with new approach

This aerial photo from Mike Harbin shows the remainder of the Sanford Dam after it failed on May 19.
This aerial photo from Mike Harbin shows the remainder of the Sanford Dam after it failed on May 19.(WJRT)
Published: Jun. 3, 2020 at 12:12 PM EDT
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(6/3/2020) - Two law firms teamed up to file another lawsuit for property owners who sustained flood damage after the Edenville and Sanford dams collapsed on May 19.

Ven Johnson Law and Romanucci & Blandin used a new approach that differs from class action lawsuits filed on behalf of flooded property owners in Gladwin and Midland counties.

This lawsuit in Midland County Circuit Court is seeking mass tort claim. While a class action lawsuit may result in a single large award for property owners to split, the new lawsuit allows property owners to have their claims evaluated and compensated individually.

“We feel strongly that this mass tort approach is the most beneficial for each client because it allows them each to be treated and compensated individually, rather than lumping them all into a single class,” said Antonio Romanucci, founding partner of Romanucci & Blandin.

Defendants in the case include Boyce Hydro, which owns the failed dams, and its operators.

Attorneys who filed the lawsuit are seeking compensation for property owners who suffered loss of property, costs to repair property, loss of business income, loss of profits and lost use or enjoyment of property.

“This devastating event and the catastrophic consequences suffered by the communities harmed were entirely preventable,” said Ven Johnson, a Saginaw native and founder of Ven Johnson Law. “The defendants indisputably knew for years that these dams were inadequate, decrepit, unstable, unsafe, and would fail under predictable conditions.”

He and other attorneys representing plaintiffs claim Boyce Hydro and its operators knew the dams were inadequate since they took ownership in 2006, but they didn't make any major repairs or upgrades.

“As a direct result of the defendants’ carelessness, negligence and willful indifference, our clients have suffered damages as well as anguish and mental anxiety," Romanucci said.

Attorneys representing plaintiffs are hosting a virtual town hall meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday for property owners interested in learning more about the lawsuit.

to sign up for the virtual town hall.

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