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Fernley Flood Victims Win $18.1M Settlement

Eight years, dozens of lawyers and hundreds of thousands of documents later, more than 200 northern Nevada Fernley flood victims are finally going to be paid for damages suffered when a century-old irrigation canal burst and sent a wall of water into their homes in 2008.

No one was killed or seriously injured but 590 homes in Fernley were flooded when water burst through a 50-foot breach in the canal’s earthen embankment Jan. 5, 2008.

A 2-foot-tall wave swamped the neighborhood and water collected 8 feet deep in some parts of the rural town 30 miles east of Reno. More than a dozen residents were rescued from rooftops by helicopter, while others were taken to safety by boats.

Judy Kroshus, lead plaintiff in the class-action lawsuit the local irrigation district recently agreed to settle for $18.1 million, and her 2-year-old grandchild were stranded by water “up to our windshield” before her son waded several blocks to rescue them.

“We were lucky to get out,” she said.

The aging, 31-mile canal is a key component of the nation’s first federal reclamation project, started in 1903. It’s owned by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation but managed by the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District (TCID). The bureau concluded within two months of the breach that burrowing rodents had weakened the canal, causing it to fail.

In July 2012, a federal jury returned a verdict during the liability phase of the trial finding the district’s history of negligence in maintaining the canal was primarily to blame. Soon after, the district agreed to a $10 million settlement, but then backed out.

The damages phase of the trial was scheduled to resume two months ago, but the district agreed to the new settlement terms after its members voted in February to raise money to finance the damage award by selling off some water rights to the Truckee Meadows Water Authority. Judge Lloyd George approved the deal March 31.

“The settlement finally brings closure to those who were harmed through no fault of their own,” said Patrick Leverty, lead co-counsel for the plaintiffs.

Kroshus, who’s the director of a tribal health service resource center in Fernley, said she had to short-sell her flood-damaged home and bought a new one just a year ago. “It’s not in the flood area,” she said.

A similar rupture in the same vicinity flooded 60 homes in December 1996.

The $18.1 million settlement includes about $7.8 million in attorney fees and expenses.

Laverty said no one in the class objected to that part of the deal.

What Our Clients Say

We used Maddox, Segerblom & Canepa to represent us in a legal suit re problems in construction on new properties that we purchased from a developer.

We were very pleased with the representation provided by this law firm. They were fully communicative, responsive to our questions and were very knowledgeable about the issues that required resolution. Even after we reached a resolution, they have been responsive in making sure to point us in the right direction for help with repairs that are required.

We would recommend them to others with similar issues that require legal help.

Atam & Margo Lalchandani

Maddox, Segerblom & Canepa did a FANTASTIC job in our construction defects case. I interacted with several people from their office throughout our 2 year litigation. Their staff is friendly, knowledgeable and always prompt about getting back to you when you have questions/comments/concerns. I especially enjoyed working with Darcy, Ardea, Eva, and Sandra. Being part of a lawsuit is no fun for anyone, but if you have to be a part of one, I can’t say enough positive things about this firm!

Victoria Fox

The law firm of Maddox, Segerblom, and Canepa were amazing to work with. They were thorough and always available for any questions we had. We worked a lot with Sandy who was always professional, friendly, always on time for appointments and just a great person to represent this firm. We have never been involved in a law suit before and they made it comfortable for us. We appreciate the hard work the lawyers and people who work for the firm did and would recommend them.

Becky Loudenburg

Construction Defect (NRS40) lawsuit. Eva Segerblom, Sandra and Darcy are Top Notch when it comes to investigation, expert witness, understanding of issues of construction defect and how to pursue a remedy. Possibly the Pre-eminent Law Firm in this highly technical area. I personally worked with them on 2 Construction Defect law Suits and the prevailed on both resulting in the Community and Homeowners receiving money to rememdy problems within this community. Because of their success and my belief in their professional abilities, I recommended them to another Community experiencing similar NRS40 issues………..again, they were successful. I highly recommend them.

Tom Gargus
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