A lawsuit has been filed on behalf of the Kingwood residents who suffered flooded homes after a rain event May 7, 2019.
Attorneys Kimberley Spurlock and Jason Webster filed suit June 17 against Figure Four Partners Ltd., PSWA, Inc. and Rebel Contractors, Inc., alleging negligence and violation of the Texas Water Code.
The attorneys filed three lawsuits in the District Court of Harris County (Case Nos. 2019-33415-7, 2019-34366-7, and 2019-36139-7). The case stems from an average rainfall of which the water drained from a Figure Four Partners development directly into Elm Grove’s streets and into the plaintiffs’ homes.
According to court documents, this water caused extreme damage to the structures and personal effects of the plaintiffs. Court documents further allege that there was nothing the plaintiffs did to contribute to this flooding, and that prior to the May 7, 2019 rainfall none of the plaintiffs’ homes had ever flooded.
Defendants Figure Four, a subsidiary of Perry Homes, and PSWA are developing a plot of land named the “Woodridge Village Development” that borders the north side of the Elm Grove neighborhood. The defendants hired Rebel Contractors as the general contractor to prepare the development for construction.
Court documents state that as of May 7, 2019, the development was not completed, but the defendants had allegedly begun the removal of trees and debris from the development and trenched out certain areas and added box culverts in an attempt to create drainage for the development. According to court documents, the defendants also filled in existing creeks and drainage channels while developing the land, thus allegedly completely blocking water flow from the existing water channels and ridding Elm Grove of proper drainage. Additionally, court documents further state, the defendants cleared the land and the development was sloped toward the plaintiffs’ neighborhood such that water would flow directly towards their homes.
Each of the defendants in the case recently filed an answer to the lawsuit denying all allegations, and made a counterclaim against the plaintiffs for having their homes flooded.
In answering the suit, all three defendants countersued the residents, saying they are responsible for their own flooding.
Court documents filed by the three defendants cite: “Pleading further, and without waiver of the foregoing, Defendant further would show that one or more of the Plaintiffs has failed to mitigate such plaintiff’s own damages as would have been done by a person of ordinary prudence, and each such plaintiff’s failure to mitigate plaintiff’s own damages has proximately caused or at least contributed to such plaintiff’s claimed damages.”
Houston City Councilmember Dave Martin is outraged.
“This may be the most outrageous act I’ve seen in my life. I saw what happened in Elm Grove on May 7th. I watched my friends pull up their carpet, rip their walls apart and throw their memories onto their front lawns.
“These people can try to intimidate us all they want, but it will only make us stronger and more determined. What they don’t understand is when you’ve walked through hell and survived, it only makes us stronger. I say, bring it on as the truth is on our side. Kingwood Strong!,” Martin said.
Attorney Omar Chawdhary, who works with Spurlock and Webster, said, “We are representing 283 people in 189 homes. We initially filed three lawsuits with different waves of clients ready to pursue their action, but have since agreed to consolidate the lawsuits in the 234th. The three lawsuits were filed for strategic reasons.
“We believe the countersuits are unbelievable. The defendants are trying to evade responsibility and scare the homeowners to drop their lawsuits. This is a David-vs.-Goliath story where the big companies are putting forth the effort to say that the homeowners, who have never been flooded before, are going to have to pay the companies for flooding their homes.
“This counterclaim is just a misdirection from the real issues, and we are ready to fully represent these homeowners and seek justice. Right now, Woodridge Village has continued to be developed towards fixing the problems. With the construction continuing, we hope that these homeowners do not have to worry about heavy rain during this rainy season. This does not take away from the fact that the homeowners should have never been flooded,”he said.
The defendants have hired eight attorneys: William J. Cozart, Jr., Mathew R. Maddox, Sanai S. Neuman, J. Cary Gray, Gabe T. Vick, Brian E. Waters, Andre K. York and Greg White.
Legal documents filed by them ask for a change of venue from Harris to Montgomery County, a judgment giving the residents nothing, a declaratory judgment and that all their attorneys’ fees, court costs and pre- and post-interest be paid by the plaintiffs.
The also have hired the high powered Houston public relations firm of Begala McGrath, who has an extensive list of prominent clients, including former President George H. W. Bush.
Days after the flooding, Martin held a meeting with representatives of Perry Homes, PSWA, Montgomery County officials and staff to discuss steps to take preventing another flood.
“It was 12 of them and me,” said Martin, who added, “About 15 minutes into the meeting, they asked if their PR firm could come in. And in walked Chris Begala and Jim McGrath. I knew then they were going to throw everything they had against the residents.”