A Washoe County judge in Nevada has ordered Reno to pay $1.1 million to owners of three homes that flooded north of the city four years ago as dozens of others continue to press related battles in federal court over handling of excess stormwater.
More than 60 homes were damaged when the Swan Lake Basin flooded in Lemmon Valley during a stretch of unusually heavy rainfall in February 2017. The flooding occurred about 8 miles north of downtown.
Washoe District Judge Barry Breslow this month ordered the city to pay the owners of the three homes $931,000 for damages plus interest for the time they’ve been in court, the Reno Gazette Journal reported.
Reno City Attorney Karl Hall said the city would pursue an appeal in the Nevada Supreme Court, where it’s already appealing related matters stemming from an earlier class-action lawsuit.
In 2019, a jury in that case found Reno liable for the damages to the residents’ homes about 10 miles east of the California line, concluding the city knew the area could flood but did nothing to prevent it. The courts also found the city used private property for public use as part of the stormwater diversion efforts.
Breslow, however, later removed class-action status from that suit, which meant plaintiffs would have to file individual claims for damages. In recent weeks, many of the other homeowners have started filing claims in U.S. District Court in Reno.
The plaintiffs’ lawyer said going to federal court likely will take more than a year but would bind the city to the 2019 verdict.
In the case of the three homeowners who won the judgment in Washoe District Court, the city argued compensation should be limited to the property’s rental value.
Breslow disagreed in his ruling March 15, declaring compensation should include the rental value at the time of the flooding, plus damages, relocation costs and attorneys’ fees, according to court documents.
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