I'm told the law is not about fairness. It's about rules, regulations and applying the facts to each; then like baking a cake waiting for the cake to come out of the oven. If that's the case then homeowners with flood damage will be happy to know the lawyers in northeast Iowa are baking a case that is good enough to eat.
If your home or business has been destroyed by flood waters and your insurance company won't provide coverage what can you do? Well one thing you can do is learn the history of your county or town and see what government projects have changed the course of the flood waters as shown by historical data. Gather evidence by talking to the old-timers at the local coffee shop. You'd be surprised what they know, which is probably more than most State of Iowa Highway engineers do. Today I'm covering the case out of Bremer County from the flood waters in 1999 as John Hines hits one out of the ballpark for the little guys. Well done John.
Twenty-six business and property owners from Denver, Iowa are proceeding in Bremer County District Court in their lawsuit against the State of Iowa saying when the State of Iowa redesigned the U.S. Highway 63 bypass and bridge project state employees could not choose to ignore state regulations that required the bridge to stand free of the floodway. The owners lost before the Iowa District Court and before the Iowa Court of Appeals, but then were victorious before the Iowa Supreme Court. The property owners claimed their properties flooded in 1999 due to the bridge and road redesign. That redesign caused water from Quarter Section Run Creek to "back up" and infiltrate parts of the town that otherwise would not have flooded. The evidence is reported to show water levels in some areas was three feet higher then it would have gotten without the project.
The lesson here to real estate owners is to know what is going on with roads and levees and historically how it affects where flood waters go.
See, Supreme Court: State can be sued over '99 flooding, by Grant Schulte, Des Moines Register
Just the facts:
Opinion (Decision): See Lyle E. Schneider, et. Al. vs State of Iowa, No. 07-0887, September 3, 2010, Iowa Supreme Court
Attorney for Plaintiffs is John J. Hines of Dutton, Braun, Staack, Hellman, P.L.C., Waterloo, for appellants.
Attorney for the State of Iowa is Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Robin G. Formaker and Richard E. Mull, Assistant Attorneys General, for appellee.
Plaintiffs: LYLE E. SCHNEIDER, PAUL S. KURTZ and SHIRLEY J. KURTZ, GENE J. PETERS, STERLING TOPS, INC., ROBERT W. BONORDEN and DEANN M. BONORDEN, GERALD W. PETERSEN, RICHARD R. KANE and DEBRA K. KANE, MARK A. DOEPKE and MICHELLE L. DOEPKE, GLORIA M. KNAPP FREILINGER, RUDY BUSCH d/b/a RUDY'S SALES AND SERVICE, PAUL R. BEEM and STACIE L. BEEM, DAVID J. FINK and DEB FINK, DAVIK'S AUTO BODY/DENVER OIL COMPANY, RANDALL-MARTA BENDER d/b/a BENDER
ENTERPRISES, INC., TOMMIE BRETTMANN d/b/a DENVER MILL, BYRON D. DAVIS and JANE P. DAVIS, DAVIS FARM AND AUTO, INC., WILLIAM BUSS d/b/a DENVER CONSTRUCTION, INC., and MIKE WOOLDRIK, as Executor of the Estate of ROBERT WOOLDRIK.
The District Court case docket shows Bremer County as the venue, Docket No. 02091 LACV002350. Click on filings for more detail of the docket entries.
Meanwhile the people in Ottumwa and Eddyville are blaming the Corps of Engineers for their flooding problems; arguing the level of Saylorville Dam has been mismanaged and increased their flooding. The Corps response had something to do with a lesser of two evils.