Sanitation District No. 1 of Ft. Wright, Ky., hired Brackney
Inc., of Brookville, Ind., as a contractor for a Northern Kentucky sewer
construction project (South Fork Gunpowder Interceptor and Rosetta Sewer
A portion of the project, intended to replace an old sewer
line, was located on adjoining land of three residential properties in
Florence, Ky., on Belvedere Court.
During open trench excavation, the land was not properly
shored, braced and backfilled. The contractor (Brackney) went against Thelen’s
pre-engineering construction plan and completed an un-braced bench cut into the
excavation triggered a landslide on the three residential properties, causing
substantial property damage, decrease in value and diminished the families’
abilities to use their backyards.
Two of the families continue to live at their damaged
residences, unable to enjoy their backyards. One family has relocated to Canada
for work reasons and has been unable to sell its home because of the backyard
damage. In 2014, a Sibcy Cline realtor told the family that moved to Canada
that it should not even list the home until there was at least an agreement in
place to fix the progressive landslide.
The families tried to negotiate with SD1. They first received
an estimated cost of $249,647 in 2014 to fix the properties of all three homes.
In 2016, they received estimates from Civil Solutions Associates of $218,401 and
$269,351 for different kinds of repairs.
The families hired attorney Jason Conte from Ulmer &
Berne, LLP, in summer 2016. In summer 2016, SD1 offered the three families a
total of $50,000 to settle. The families rejected that offer, which was later
withdrawn. The families countered by asking for $269,351. SD1 rejected that.
In November 2016, the families filed a lawsuit in Boone
County Circuit Court, seeking damages because SD1 was not offering sufficient
money to fix the landslide.
SD1 sent out appraisers who determined the diminution in
value was $6,000, $6,000 and $5,000 in each of the three homes. In November
2017, SD1 offered three separate judgments totaling $17,000 for the three
families without any admission of liability nor that the families had suffered
any damages. The families rejected those offers.