Ven Johnson Law Sues Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes & Energy and Department of Natural Resources
DETROIT, MI – Ven Johnson Law, PLC, and Romanucci & Blandin, LLC, two nationally-recognized personal injury law firms, filed a lawsuit on Aug. 11, 2020, in the Michigan Courts of Claims against the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes & Energy (EGLE) and Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for their failure to properly regulate and supervise the Edenville and Sanford dams, which ultimately led to the severe flood damage sustained by nearly 300 clients
The plaintiffs are mid-Michigan residential and commercial property owners, who continue to experience catastrophic property damage and economic harm as the result of flooding from the Edenville and Sanford dams failing on May 19, 2020. The flooding caused millions of dollars in property damage, forced approximately 10,000 residents to evacuate their homes, compromised water supplies and rendered residential wells undrinkable.
In 2018, EGLE and DNR assumed regulatory responsibility for the Edenville dam after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) revoked the license of Boyce Hydro Power, LLC to operate the dam following decades of mismanagement and violations. Since they assumed regulatory responsibility, both EGLE and DNR knew that the Edenville dam was unable to meet federal and state standards for flood capacity.
“For years, EGLE and DNR knew the Edenville dam was unsafe. In fact, an internal email stated that the state discovered the 96-year old structure didn’t meet state standards for its capacity to withstand major flooding, yet they did nothing to protect the communities, our clients and their property,” said Ven Johnson, founder, Ven Johnson Law. “Their negligence, knowledge and purposeful acts with regard to how they handled the dam management is what led to the devastating events on May 19. The state must be held accountable for its actions or lack thereof.”
Michigan Law requires dam spillways to have the capacity to pass 100- or 200-year floods, or the flood of record, depending on the dam. The lawsuit states the defendants were aware of the Edenville dam’s failure to meet its spillway capacity as early as 2016.
“The state agencies were acutely aware of the risk that the unsafe dams posed to the community,” said Stephan Blandin, founding partner of Romanucci & Blandin. “The flood caused significant destruction to the surrounding area, and drained both the Wixom and Sanford Lakes, reducing our clients’ home values resulting in long-term economic hardship.”
About Ven Johnson Law, PLC
Ven Johnson Law, PLC, founded by Ven Johnson in 2011, has worked on some of the most notable personal injury cases in America, winning more than $200 million in jury verdicts and settlements totaling more than $400 Million. The firm’s practice areas include civil rights, police misconduct, premises liability, product liability and many more. Ven Johnson and his team have been recognized by legal organizations and publications across the country, including being named to the “Best Law Firms” list by U.S. News & World Report 2017-2020. For more information, visit www.venjohnsonlaw.com.