Jury rules against Oregon couple in landslide case

Oregon's Benton County was cleared of responsibility in a landslide that destroyed a couple's home. The couple pursued civil litigation against the county after their home was pushed off of its foundation and collapsed during a severe storm. The plaintiffs argued that the county-owned drainage system near the structure caused a substantial amount of rainwater to run into their property, contributing to the home's damage.

The couple attempted to recoup some of the $885,000 in damages their home sustained from their insurance company, but were informed that their homeowner's policy did not cover damage caused by earth movement. This prompted them to sue Benton County in an Oregon court, arguing that storm water diverted by the drainage system caused the collapse of their home, including their home office. The couple was just one of at least 12 homeowners in the region that reserved their rights to file suit against the county.

The jury ultimately ruled the water was not the primary cause of the collapse of the plaintiffs' home, asserting the county could not have prevented the landslide and thus did not wrongfully deprive the plaintiffs of their home and belongings therein.

The plaintiffs say they were "shocked" by the jury's decision but have not yet decided whether they will appeal the ruling. They have 30 days from the time the judgment is entered to appeal. They could still obtain help even without an appeal, according to the county's attorney, who explained that county officials plan on looking into a possible source of Federal Emergency Management Agency funds for the couple. FEMA initially told the couple they did not qualify for disaster aid.

If you feel someone's negligence is responsible for damage to your property, contact an experienced attorney to discuss your options. There are civil remedies available when negligence can be proven and an attorney can ensure your rights are protected.

Source:  gazettetimes.com, "Couples loses landslide lawsuit" Bennett Hall, May. 02, 2013

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