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The dam failure led to the destruction of thousands of homes and businesses and hundreds of millions of dollars in property damage along the Tittabawassee River and Wixom, Sanford, Secord, and Smallwood lakes; and the draining or partial draining of those lakes.

The administrative claims allege that FERC negligently entrusted the license to operate the Edenville Dam to a private owner, Boyce Hydro, which it knew or should have known was unwilling or incapable of operating the dam safely.

The claims also allege that FERC failed in its mandatory duty to monitor the operation of the dam to ensure that Boyce Hydro, the owner at the time, was equipped with the necessary capital, experience, and willingness to safely maintain the dam.

“The State of Michigan, through its agencies, and FERC had the power and the obligation to ensure the safety of residents and their properties from negligent owners and bad corporate actors. Instead of exercising this authority in a prudent manner, the federal and state governments became complicit in a hazardous dam operation by negligently entrusting the license to a careless and heartless operator. This tragedy represents a massive failure of state and federal governments. State and federal government must be held accountable for its role in causing this disaster,” said Michael Pitt, Senior Partner of Pitt McGehee Palmer Bonanni & Rivers.

Pitt added that a coalition of law firms and attorneys is preparing administrative claims on behalf of clients. “Ultimately, there will be more than a thousand claimants and the amount the federal government will owe will exceed $1 billion," Pitt said.

The June 18 administrative claims were filed under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). Under this law, the federal government can be held accountable for its negligence in causing harm and injuries to the parties bringing these claims.

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“We are not giving up on our community. This is where we want to be," lakefront property owner and claimant Dave Krieger said in the news release. "We were totally innocent, and we have to pay to clean up someone else’s mistakes. That is not right. This catastrophe was caused in part by FERC’s negligence, and they must do what is necessary to clean up the mess it caused and to compensate every single person for their losses.

"It is hard to believe that this dam has been considered dangerous for 26 years and that FERC licensed Boyce without requiring it to make the dam safe to operate. It is shocking that the federal government would do something so reckless. We want to be fairly compensated so that we can rebuild our lakes and our lives.”

Since 1993, FERC has listed the Edenville Dam as a "High Hazard" structure and has issued multiple mandates to the dam’s owners for safety upgrades and maintenance without any meaningful follow-up enforcement activities by federal and state agencies.

Residents filing administrative complaints within two years of injury under the Federal Tort Claims Act can ask for compensation for damages. The federal government has unlimited time to either negotiate a settlement or deny the administrative claim. If a denial is issued or there is no agency decision after waiting six months, each individual then has six months to file a federal court lawsuit against the federal government for relief.

Source : https://www.chron.com/news/article/FERC-being-sued-for-more-than-334-million-16266133.php

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