By Conrad Dudderar
EL RENO – A Canadian County lawsuit over property damage caused during flooding three years ago has been settled in mediation.
The civil action against Canadian County Commissioners was dismissed with prejudice on May 2 in Canadian County District Court.
Plaintiffs Rhonda Steenbergen, Donald Erwin and minor sought to recover damages that occurred to their Jensen Road property during heavy rains on May 8, May 21 and June 6, 2019.
They own property in the 7800 block of Jensen Road, west of Manning Road and south of Interstate 40.
In their September 2019 lawsuit, plaintiffs alleged negligence by the county commissioners, a county contractor and engineer during a District 3 road construction project.
The plaintiffs have dismissed “all claims alleged and/or that could have been alleged in their petition … with prejudice against refiling the same, as to defendant” Canadian County Commissioners, according to the dismissal signed by their attorney William F. Johnston.
“Each party to bear their own costs and attorney’s fees.”
In a dismissal with prejudice, the plaintiff is barred from bringing an action on the same claim.
A jury trial set to begin Sept. 12 has been stricken from District Judge Jack D. McCurdy II’s docket.
Co-defendants Haskell Lemon Construction, Arrowhead Engineering and CEC Corporation were dismissed from the lawsuit in 2020.
District 3 Canadian County Commissioner Jack Stewart, who took responsibility for the Jensen Road project, is pleased the court case is closed.
“I’m glad that we could come to an agreement to both parties’ satisfaction,” Stewart said.
“We are going to try to do as much as possible to make the drainage a better situation. But there’s no guarantees it will be 100% fixed should we receive the type of flooding we had.”
Commissioner Stewart referred to “torrential” rains that fell during May and June 2019, causing flooding in “many areas” across Canadian County.
REVIEWING THE ALLEGATIONS
The lawsuit petition had alleged the plaintiffs’ property flooded because of the “negligent design, construction and maintenance” of Jensen Road and drains or culverts on the road:
“Plaintiffs’ property was flooded as a result of the defendants’ interference, diversion, obstruction, and unnatural discharge of the natural flow of water.”
In court documents, Canadian County’s attorneys noted the plaintiffs’ home sits at a lower elevation than Jensen Road and is relatively close to the road.
“In May of 2019, Oklahoma saw significant rains,” according to a March 6th brief filed in support of a motion for summary judgment. “These rains caused reported flash flood conditions in El Reno near plaintiffs’ home. Plaintiffs’ home experienced flooding following these rains and this lawsuit resulted.”
Rains totaling 16.08 inches were of “incredible force” and “unlike any rains for the past several years,” the defendants’ attorneys wrote in their brief.
“The combination of the May 2019 deluge and plaintiffs’ low-lying property created a perfect storm for flooding.”
Canadian County Commissioners were represented by attorneys Stephen L. Geries, Jon Williford and Taylor M. Riley.