New York Town Shares Liability in 2005 Dam Break

October 31, 2011

A midlevel New York court says the township that owns and operates a dam shares liability with its contractors for its 2005 collapse.

A Washington County jury last year found a construction company and design firm mostly at fault for the failure of a dam shortly after it was rebuilt, causing millions of dollars in damage to properties in Fort Ann.

About 200 homes were evacuated after the dam crumbled at the end of mile-long Hadlock Pond, about 55 miles north of Albany. More than 100 owners sued.

In Thursday’s ruling, the Appellate Division concludes 1999 amendments to state conservation law give dam owners “a nondelegable duty” to maintain and operate them safely.

However, the five justices say that does not relieve other defendants of liability for their negligence.

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