Victims of Calif. Flooding Seek $1 Billion in Lawsuits

February 1, 2007

Victims of last winter’s flooding in Marin County, Calif., are seeking more than $1 billion in a suit filed against government agencies they blame for the devastation.

Each of the 265 individuals and businesses named in the six separate lawsuits is asking for $4 million in damages and another $250,000 in legal fees, said attorney Herb Rowland, who is defending the city of San Anselmo.

The flood that began Dec. 31, 2005 damaged about 1,200 homes and 200 businesses. Official estimates said the damage exceeded $110 million, but a plaintiffs attorney, Lawrence Mann, said it was above $300 million.

The lawsuits — which were filed in Marin County Superior Court between June and December of last year — name the cities of Mill Valley, Ross, Marin County, the Marin Municipal Water District, the state of California and Tamalpais Union High School District among the defendants.

The plaintiffs want to collect the most money allowed by each defendant’s insurer without hurting municipal budgets, said Mann.

Government officials said the legal process would be costly and that the flood was a natural disaster beyond their control.

Bob Ferguson, superintendent of the Tamalpais Union High School District, said the lawsuit will likely cost the district more than $100,000.

The suit’s contention that new fields at a high school contributed to the flood is “preposterous,” Ferguson said.

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