Sinkholes Lead to Lawsuits in Oklahoma Town

September 15, 2015

A western Oklahoma town is grappling with the estimated $1 million cost to fix several sinkholes that appeared after heavy rainfall in May.

The courts could end up determining who will foot the bill for the gaping holes in Weatherford, The Oklahoman reported. Owners of an affected property filed a damage lawsuit last month, and days later the city filed a condemnation claim over the now-foreclosed property, which was once was home to a pair of Ford dealerships.

“The lawyers have it at this point,” Mayor Mike Brown said. “We’re just waiting for them to figure out … a good solution for both sides.”

The biggest sinkhole, which is about 50 feet wide and 25 feet deep, can be seen clearly from the road and nearby properties, including city hall and the police department. A smaller sinkhole is visible on the property near the old showroom and another large sinkhole can be seen inside one of the buildings, according to locals.

It’s unclear what caused the sinkholes, but Brown believes they were at least partially caused by a broken drainage pipe.

“I think basically what happened is the pipe that ran under the building had collapsed in a couple of places and, over time, with all the rain that we got, it worked a pretty good size sinkhole,” he said.

“The city wasn’t aware of any problem, but now it’s kind of become a problem for us.”

The drainage pipe was installed by the property owner about 50 years ago, and nowadays drainage pipes never are installed underneath structures, Brown said.

A temporary fence was installed several weeks ago around the vacant car lot to protect the public.

Topics Lawsuits Oklahoma

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