32 plaintiffs added to class-action suit
Two state agencies have been added as defendants in the suit.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Thirty-two people living in Austintown, Canfield and Poland have been added to a class-action lawsuit that blames government officials and their representatives for repeated flooding and sewage problems at their homes and businesses.
Attorney Michael P. Marando filed the initial class-action suit in April in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court seeking a writ of mandamus and other relief for 181 Boardman Township and Youngstown residents.
On Thursday, he filed the amended complaint adding 32 people from the other suburban communities.
A writ of mandamus compels a government agency or official to perform a specified duty.
Already named as defendants are the county and its commissioners; county Sanitary Engineer Joseph Warino and his department; county Engineer Richard Marsico and his department; Boardman Township; and the city of Youngstown and its department of public works.
The amended complaint adds Austintown and Canfield townships; City of Canfield; Poland Township and Poland Village; Mill Creek Metropolitan Park District; the state of Ohio; the Ohio Department of Natural Resources; Ohio Department of Environmental Protection Agency; and a host of unnamed pump operators from the political subdivisions.
The initial suit and the amended complaint say the governments and their representatives were negligent in ensuring that water nuisances that have caused flooding and sewage backups in private property and businesses for years were not properly resolved.
The suit arises from sanitary sewage backups during July, August and September 2003, and on other occasions before or after those dates.
The lawsuit says the governments owned, operated, maintained and/or operated sanitary or storm water sewers, covered drains, open drains, street drains and connected collection, transportation and treatment facilities in the affected areas.
According to court documents, the defendants knew or should have known the defects and deficiencies of the sewer system, and that they had a duty to properly design a sanitary sewer water and storm water sewage system that would promote the health, safety and welfare of the plaintiffs.
Before July 2003, the governments and their representatives improperly designed, constructed, provided, maintained or operated the sewer system resulting in the flooding and sewage backups, the suit says.
Plaintiffs say their homes suffered structural damage, personal property was destroyed, and they had to spend lots of money to sanitize and clean their homes because of the bacteria and other unsanitary conditions caused by the sewage backups.
The suit asks a court to order the governments and their representatives to adopt an emergency action plan by using taxpayer funds in the affected districts.
The money would be used, among other things, to install catch basin covers and state-of-the-art backwater valves for all the plaintiffs. The suit also seeks compensatory and punitive damages in excess of $25,000.