CLYDE — Dean and Lorelei Garnes, residents of Oak Park subdivision, are suing the Lake Junaluska Sanitary District alleging water and sewage lines running through their property are broken and that the district is refusing to repair them.
The problem was first noticed two years ago when the Garnes noticed large amounts of water pooling on their property.
In previous news reports in The Mountaineer, the sanitary district examined the problem and and could find no evidence of a broken water or sewer line. Tests paid for by the Garnes showed there was chlorine in the water, which they contended indicated the flooding on their property wasn’t groundwater.
Despite the district’s allegations that sewage lines weren’t leaking, either, the Garnes and their neighbors reported sewer odors at the time.
The situation resulted in the Garnes taking measures at their own expense to keep the water out of their basement and get rid of the mold in their home.
In the lawsuit, the Garnes allege the sanitary district has a water and a sewer line on their property without an easement. Both lines broke, causing water and sewage to lead onto the Garnes’ property and into their house, the lawsuit alleges.
The lawsuit contends the sanitary district has trespassed, created a nuisance, breached its contract and acted negligently.
The lawsuit alleges the district has violated the state and federal constitution for failing to adhere to due process and equal protection.
“JSD, as a pattern, custom and practice, repairs leaks to its water and sewer lines and pays on claims for damages to tort claimants similar to the Garnes’ tortious claims,” the complaint states. “JSD has refused to repair the leak and pay the Garnes’ claim for damages.”
The document states the district has engaged in arbitrary and capricious conduct, thus violating the due process and equal protection clauses of the state and federal constitutions.
In the lawsuit, the Garnes are asking for a jury trial, for the sanitary district to remove its lines from their property and for compensation for damages.
Sanitary district response
In its motion to dismiss the suit, Junaluska Sanitary District contends that neither the district’s water or sewer main lines leak, so there is no liability.
The district provides water distribution and sewer collection services throughout Oak Park, the court document states, but not the service lines, which are the responsibility of the homeowner.
The sanitary district response states there are three lines on the Garnes property, that the district has easements for two and serves the third line pursuant to regulations under the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality. Furthermore, under DEQ guidelines, the sanitary district does not claim ownership of sewer lines smaller than 8 inches.
The sanitary district denies any negligence, and states if the court determines there is negligence, it should be on the part of the Garnes and their attempt to remediate an alleged leak that did not exist.
The sanitary district asks that the Garnes’ claims be dismissed and that they recover nothing. The district also asked for a jury trial, along with an order declaring the water and sewer easements to be valid and binding.
The district asked that its attorney fees, along with costs associated with the action, be paid by the Garnes.