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Insurance company sues Will County, Channahon over damage from floods

Published: Wednesday, April 30, 2014 9:07 p.m. CDT

CHANNAHON – Farmers Insurance Co. has filed a lawsuit against Will County and 12 county municipalities – including Channahon – alleging local governments failed to properly act to prevent damage caused by heavy rains last spring.

The lawsuit, filed April 17, lists the county and 12 municipalities as defendants: Joliet, Bolingbrook, Plainfield, New Lenox, Shorewood, Frankfort, Lockport, Manhattan, Channahon, Homer Glen, Naperville and University Park. Similar lawsuits were filed the same day in Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, LaSalle and McHenry counties.

Stuart Brody, the insurance company’s attorney, and Trent Frager, spokesman for Farmers Insurance, both declined to say how much the company is trying to recover in damages.

The rain caused widespread flooding and led Gov. Pat Quinn to declare declared 48 counties – including Grundy and Will counties – state disaster areas.

The Will County lawsuit – filed on behalf of the insurance company, those insured with the company and property owners who sustained extensive flood damage – alleges the county and local governments had “adequate time and opportunity” to take action before the flooding that took place April 17 and 18, in 2013.

The Will County suit claims the county and local governments failed to safely operate retention basins, detention basins, tributary enclosed sewers and tributary open sewers/drains for the purpose of safely conveying stormwater, resulting in excessive flood damage to certain properties.

The heavy rainfall seen in Will County last spring was “not an Act of God,” the suit states.Rather, the rainfall was “ordinary” and “reasonably foreseeable” and that the towns were aware of known defects in their stormwater sewer systems and sanitary water systems based on prior investigations of sewer water invasions and prior studies.

Frager said the company filed the lawsuit because it believes the damage caused was “completely preventable.”

“Farmers has taken what we believe is the necessary action to recover payments made on behalf of our customers, for damages caused by what we believe to be a completely preventable issue, as well as to prevent it from happening again,” Frager said in a statement.

Anastasia Tuskey, spokeswoman for County Executive Larry Walsh, said the office is aware of the lawsuit but has not yet been served. Citing the ongoing nature of the litigation, Tuskey declined to comment further.

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