Have you been affected by the Edenville Dam and Sanford Lake Dam failures? Fieger Law can help determine if you have a claim to bring against the liable parties for full compensation. We are a nationwide firm with a long history of success and a reputation for managing some of the most difficult, complex, and high-stakes civil cases on record.
Both the Edenville and Sanford Lake Dams in Michigan have failed, forcing thousands of residents of Edenville, Sanford, and other areas in Midland to evacuate. In just one day, the Edenville Dam broke causing the Sanford Lake Dam to overflow before it to also failed under the raised water levels. The property damage is expected to be some of the most catastrophic ever witnessed in Michigan as the floodwaters continue to swell throughout the area.
Reports are now saying that the company that regulates both dams has been warned by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for more than 20 years regarding these defects. Now that the dams have failed, people are displaced, while homes and businesses have been destroyed, any action they take now is too late. It is up to those affected by the dam failures to take legal action instead.
Who is Liable for the Dam Failures?
Edenville Dam and Sanford Lake Dam are both owned by the private company Boyce Hydro Power (Boyce). The company was in the process of selling the dams when they both failed, and ownership never changed hands. As the owner of both dams, Boyce is largely responsible for the monitoring of water levels and they are required to take action in order to prevent flooding and failures. With this said, Boyce Hydro Power is almost certainly liable for the dam failures to some extent and all of the damages experienced by people throughout Midland County.
The company’s liability will likely only increase as reports continue to surface that show FERC had warned of both dams failing during heavy rainfall or flooding. Boyce has also been handed violation citations for the insufficient design and maintenance of the dams for 14 years. However, no significant updates or repairs were ever made. In 2018, FERC revoked Boyce’s license to operate the Edenville dam, citing failure to comply with required regulations and the longstanding failure to update the dam’s spillways, which are essential in the prevention of a dam collapse during heavy rainfall.
However, Boyce might not be the only party liable for the dam failures. The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) might also be found partially liable for the Edenville Dam and Sanford Lake Dam failures. EGLE had apparently allowed the lake levels to be risen in April 2020 to satisfy residents living alongside Wixom Lake. Boyce has also claimed they attempted to lower the lake water levels, but EGLE denied the request in order to protect an endangered species of mussels.
How Can Boyce & EGLE Be Held Liable?
Michigan dam failure plaintiffs can file claims against both parties by citing both strict liability and general negligence laws. Boyce Hydro Power is strictly liable for the condition of the dams as the owner of both properties. No matter why a dam fails, its owner and operators can be held accountable through strict liability rules.
Boyce can also be accused of general negligence due to the improper upkeep of the Edenville Dam and the Sanford Lake Dam. There are FERC records dating back into the 1990s that show the spillways were outdated and unsuitable. Instead of taking steps to build additional spillways, Boyce continually ignored state regulations and only inspected the cites at irregular, insufficient intervals. Had due diligence been exercised, the entire disaster would have more than likely been avoided.
EGLE and the State of Michigan might be held liable through general negligence rules as well. With Boyce failing to comply with and listen to dam safety regulators, EGLE should have intervened much sooner to force the company into court, where a court order could have implemented the spillway upgrades. Also, if EGLE did insist on keeping the Wixom Lake water levels elevated, then the decision could be considered a form of general negligence.
Can You Sue Boyce & EGLE?
There are already class actions forming against Boyce Hydro Power for the failures of both the Edenville and Sanford Lake Dams. In a class action, hundreds or thousands of plaintiffs are represented during one lawsuit. If the case is a success, then the entire class wins – but the same is true for a case failure.
Joining a class action is not a decision you should make lightly. Come to Fieger Law and allow our Michigan dam failure attorneys to help you decide how to best proceed with your case. Your situation may be more suited for an individual lawsuit rather than a class action, especially if we find that EGLE should be partially liable for the damages you have experienced.
What Damages Can You Demand?
The Michigan dam failures have caused significant flooding throughout Midland County. Homes and businesses have been devastated to varying degrees. Some properties are damaged and need extensive repairs, and others are expected to be a total loss.
If you were affected by the Edenville and Sanford Lake dam failures, your damages might include:
- Injury damages: You can demand compensation related to the physical and mental injuries you have suffered due to the dam failures. Being displaced from your home due to a catastrophic dam failure and flooding is a harrowing experience. If you are experiencing post-traumatic stress because of it, then you can cite psychological trauma in your claim.
- Property damages: Was your home or business flooded or otherwise damaged by the dam failures in Midland County, Michigan? To get your property repaired, you should demand compensation from the liable parties. Affected business owners might also be able to seek compensation for the income they lost while being unable to run their business.
Exploring all your options and damages is crucial when the stakes are so high. Fieger Law and our Michigan dam failure lawyers can be trusted to handle your claim or lawsuit from start to finish. We will make certain to carefully calculate all of your damages and bring a case against the liable parties, which may be Boyce, ELGE, the State of Michigan, or any combination of those named.
Call (800) 294-6637 to request an initial consultation with Fieger Law and see why we are considered legal leaders in Michigan and beyond.
Interesting Resources & Information
- FERC documents outlining interactions and citations against Boyce
- Copy of FERC order to revoke the Edenville Dam license
- ELGE records chronicling interactions with Boyce up to the dam failure events
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