Elm Grove Lawsuits: New Defendant, New Charges, Amended Petition and More

Court documents filed with the Harris County District Clerk show that the tempo of the Elm Grove lawsuits against Perry Homes, its subsidiaries and contractors is increasing. Litigants have filed 20 new documents in the last three weeks. The judge has set a trial date for July 13, 2020. That’s about three months from now.

Plaintiffs File Fifth Amended Petition

The big news: Plaintiffs filed their fifth amended petition. LJA Engineering Inc. has been brought into the suit and named as an additional defendant.

Plaintiffs allege that LJA, when designing the drainage for Woodridge Village, used an outdated Montgomery County Drainage Criteria Manual. LJA went by the 1989 version when an updated 2014 version existed. Since then, MoCo has revised the documents yet again. A 2019 version now exists that took effect before Imelda last year. (Note: the link above leads to the updated manual, however, MoCo did not update the date on the cover page. So this gets very confusing.)

List of Charges Expands

Plaintiffs’ lawyers have added negligent retention and negligent supervision to the list of charges. They now accuse defendants of:

  • a. Removing drainage from the Development;
  • b. Removing a levee from the Development site;
  • c. Blocking the drainage channels;
  • d. Filling in existing drainage channels;
  • e. Failing to properly install box culverts;
  • f. Failing to create temporary drainage channels;
  • g. Failing to allow adequate drainage after construction;
  • h. Failing to install silt barriers;
  • i. Allowing the Development to force rainfall toward Plaintiffs’ homes;
  • j. Failing to pay proper attention

Plaintiffs argue that “the Contractor Defendants had actual, subjective awareness of the risk involved, but nevertheless proceeded with conscious indifference to the rights, safety, or welfare of others.”

The streets of Elm Grove are still littered with trash from reconstruction of their homes after Imelda – the second flood in 2019. This image was taken on Village Springs in February of 2020.

Accusations Specific to LJA

The amended petition also lists charges specific to LJA.

  • a. Failing to follow the correct drainage guidelines in Montgomery County;
  • b. Failing to provide adequate drainage in the Development;
  • c. Failing to adequately model the Development;
  • d. Failing to adequately report the modeling;
  • e. Removing drainage channels;
  • f. Causing post-development discharges and water surface elevation to increase downstream of the Development;
  • g. Failing to design detention ponds with adequate capabilities for rain events;
  • h. Failing to use the correct hydrology method;
  • i. Failing to design emergency overflows for the detention ponds;
  • j. Failing to notify the Developer Defendants and Contractor Defendants of the importance of the existing levee; and,
  • k. Other ways described the consulting engineer’s report.

Plaintiffs Seek Exemplary Damages and Mandatory Injunction

The plaintiffs now seek exemplary damages and a mandatory injunction that forces defendants to return the property to its prior condition, wherein the surface water runoff properly flows into the drainage ditch.

Defendants also filed the reports of two expert witnesses: an engineer from Pennsylvania, who examined LJA’s performance, and another expert, who will testify about the magnitude of rainfalls on May 7th and September 19th. More on those in a future post.

No Response Yet from Defendants to Specific Charges

We still have yet to see the defendants’ specific responses to any of these charges except for the general denials they made last year.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 3/6/2020

920 Days after Hurricane Harvey and 169 since Imelda