The city of Fayetteville, North Carolina was the defendant in a wrongful death lawsuit and faced liability for its operation of a storm drain system in 2009. 17-year old Jesse Marquil King drowned when he was caught in a heavy rainstorm and was swept into an open ditch that was under the jurisdiction of the city of Fayetteville. Mr. King became stuck in the drain pipe that was clogged with a tree branch. The representatives of Mr. King's estate filed a wrongful death suit against the city; the trial court denied the city's claim of governmental immunity and the lawsuit proceeded on the merits for negligence. The decedent's representatives alleged negligence in maintaining the storm water drainage system. In that case, the court ruled that the operation of a storm drain system was a non-governmental activity performed by the city, such that they do not enjoy immunity from civil suit. This particular area of law will differ from state to state and possibly city to city depending on the municipal code in effect, but based on this ruling, it is likely that many cities will be held accountable for negligence in storm drain maintenance and can face liability in a civil lawsuit.
The death of a Cedar Rapids teen, Logan Blake, occurred after he was swept away in storm water and into a drain where he was trapped and drowned. The pipe where Logan entered the drain system was 54 inches wide and can contain 67,000 gallons of flowing water per minute. This type of tragic death caused by storm water drainage systems occurs more often than it should.
Call us today if you know of someone that suffered injuries or died in a storm water drain in Iowa.