City lawsuits ready

By Thomas Wilson
STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com

   Two lawsuits involving the city of Elizabethton, a "milk truck" and a flooding problem are scheduled to come before Judge Thomas Seeley in the Circuit Court of Carter County on Friday.
   A lawsuit filed by local businessman Floyd Storie is seeking more than $11,000 in damages from the city of Elizabethton and two businesses hired to do work for the city following a flooding incident July 3, 2001.
   The lawsuit filed by Elizabethton Attorney Lanny Norris on behalf of Floyd Storie, president of Floyd Storie Roofing Contractor Inc., contends that in autumn 1999, the city was contemplating purchasing property formerly owned by Elizabethton Herb & Metal and located on the west side of Storie's business at 518 Hattie Avenue.
   According to the lawsuit, the city required an environmental survey and report concerning the property as a condition to purchase the land. The city hired the firm of Tysinger Hampton & Partners Inc. of Johnson City, which took core samples and performed other related work. Shortly after purchasing the property, the city hired Appalachian Landscaping Inc., of Elizabethton to trim and remove brush and do landscaping work.
   Storie's lawsuit alleges that when the city bought the land there was a drainage culvert on the southern portion of the property designed to capture rainwater and carry it to the storm water drainage system. Having inspected the property, the city should have known about the existence of the culvert, Storie claims.
   Prior to July 3, a large steel plate was "negligently placed" over the culvert's opening and never removed, thus blocking the flow of water into the drainage culvert, according to the suit. Following torrential rainfall occurring on July 3, rainwater that normally would have been carried away from Storie's property through the culvert instead began to accumulate and was channeled down onto his property, the lawsuit contends. Storie claims that water approximately 24 inches deep coursed through his building, damaging $8,000 in personal property stored in a warehouse, and resulted in $3,012.50 in cleanup and restoration costs.
   The suit alleges that the defendants were negligent in placing and failing to remove the steel plate from the culvert after work was completed, and that they are jointly and severally responsible. Storie is seeking $11,012.50 in damages and asks that legal costs be taxed to the city. Attorney John Rambo of Jonesborough is representing the city in the Storie case.
   The court is also scheduled to hear a lawsuit filed in November 2002 by Dr. Joe May naming the city and code enforcement officer, Capt. Tom Bowers, as defendants. The lawsuit had sought damages against the city and the return of a refrigerator truck owned by May that had been held at the city's impound yard since October 2001, according to court documents.
   The city's code enforcement officer, Capt. Tom Bowers, cited May into City Court in October 2001 after he failed to remove a "milk truck" from his property on West G Street. The officer had placed a notice of violation on the windshield of the truck on Sept. 19, 2001 advising the owner that he was in violation of city ordinance and that he had 10 days to correct the problem. The tags on the truck expired in 1989 and the registration was no longer on file, according to the officer's report. After Bowers returned to find the truck had not been moved, the truck was towed to the city's impound lot.
   Bowers later issued May a citation for failure to abate a nuisance after notice. City Judge Lewis Merryman subsequently dismissed May's violation when he appeared in City Court on Oct. 15, 2001 ruling that the officer couldn't prove the vehicle was a nuisance. General Sessions Judge John Walton dismissed May's suit against the city in January 2003 citing a lack of jurisdiction by Circuit Court as a venue to hear the case. The case was then moved into Circuit Court.
   The attorney representing the city, K. Erickson Herrin of Jonesborough, filed a motion for summary judgment and dismissal of the case on Jan. 16, 2003. Herrin's motion contended that May filed the complaint with the Circuit Court on Nov. 12, 2002, more than one year after the vehicle was towed and more than one year after the dismissal of the "nuisance" charge.