Richwood threatens lawsuit

Letters claiming the city of Lake Jackson was liable for flooding in Richwood cite activities that were carried out at this location, a flood gate near FM 2004.

LAKE JACKSON — They began arriving at City Hall in bunches early this month and now number around 200: letters from a Houston trial attorney working on behalf of Richwood area residents, who allege the city of Lake Jackson caused flooding in their homes in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

Both the trial attorney, Matias Adrogue, and Lake Jackson City Attorney Sherri Russell said this week they are unwilling to reach a settlement and will take the issue to trial if necessary.

“I don’t file lawsuits to settle them,” Adrogue said. “We are going to get justice.”

While the letters state Adrogue’s clients plan to hold Lake Jackson liable for damages, no petition to start a lawsuit has been filed, Russell said Wednesday.

Russell briefed City Council on the potential lawsuit in an executive session Monday.

The letters, which are identical except for the clients’ names and addresses, claim the initial estimate of damages to each “is at least $100,000.”

According the letters, “On or around Sept. 1, 2017, at or near FM 2004, near the Regal Storage, Lake Jackson’s water pumping operations, in addition to the construction of a temporary sandbag dam and other methods, caused the downstream flooding conditions of Bastrop Bayou to become materially affected, causing my client’s above mentioned injuries,” which the letters list as property damages, personal injuries and mental anguish.

Adrogue singled out City Manager Bill Yenne in the letters as the person who “with conscious indifference” directed the construction and pumping activities that allegedly caused the flooding damages.

Yenne said the claims “do not have any basis in credible facts.”

“We deny all the allegations and will defend the city fully,” he said. “We did not cause any water impacts upstream or downstream.”

The letters state Adrogue’s clients might rely on the testimony of city employees and of residents in the neighborhoods of Audobon Woods No. 1, Quail Run, Briar Creek, Four Oaks, Wisteria, Oakwood Shores, Brazos Crossing, Oyster Creek Drive, Hollyhock Street, Jasmine Street, North Yaupon, South Yaupon and Magnolia Lane.

Russell said the city has hired Barry Abrams, a Houston lawyer with experience representing municipalities, and is waiting to see what legal steps Adrogue and his clients take next.

“We don’t settle. Ever,” Russell said.

Sam Liebl is a reporter at The Facts. Contact him at 979-237-0152.

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This was not the first time Lake Jackson diverted water that adversely affected others.

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