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Buckfire Law Files Two Class-Action Lawsuits Against Dam Owners, State of Michigan

DETROIT — Attorneys from Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C., a Michigan-based law firm, announced today they have filed two class-action lawsuits on behalf of 19 victims, each of whom sustained catastrophic damage from the Edenville Dam and Sanford Dam failure that flooded Midland and surrounding areas.

The federal court lawsuit, filed in the Eastern District of Michigan, names the owners and managers of the dams, and other entities responsible for their maintenance. The lawsuit is seeking compensation for the loss of property, business losses, relocation expenses, and other losses.

The federal lawsuit was filed on behalf of 19 plaintiffs represented by Buckfire Law, which is believed to be the largest number of claimants represented in a complaint related to the dam failure.

The federal lawsuit also alleges the dam owners, Boyce Hydro and its manager, Lee Mueller, were negligent in failing to operate, fix or repair the dams. According to the complaint, Boyce Hydro failed to ensure both dams were in working order and in accordance to federal regulations.

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A second lawsuit filed by Buckfire Law in the Michigan Court of Claims says the actions of the state of Michigan, through Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) and Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), contributed to the flooding disaster and could have been averted were it not for the state’s wrongful conduct.

“This was an entirely preventable disaster that has upended countless lives and businesses,” said attorney Michael Bonvolanta, who represents the proposed classes. “The collapse of the Edenville Dam could have been avoided, and now, small business owners have lost their livelihoods and thousands of families have had their homes destroyed. This was not an unforeseen event.”

In the Court of Claims lawsuit that names the state agencies as defendants, attorney Robert Lantzy said Carl Swarthout, of Midland, Mich., was a victim of the state’s failed oversight and regulatory actions with respect to the Edenville Dam. Swarthout’s property was “washed away as a result of the Edenville and Sanford Dam failures,” according to the complaint.

“Despite knowing the threat posed by these unsafe dams, the defendants failed to operate, fix or repair the dams in accordance with the established standard of care,” Bonvolanta said. “This was a disaster waiting to happen.”

About Dam Failure Law Firm Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C.

Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C. is a family owned and operated law firm with offices across the state of Michigan. Founded in 1969, Buckfire Law has earned the highest possible ratings in the legal profession for skill and integrity.

The Southfield, Michigan-based law firm takes great pride in providing the best possible legal representation to the people who need them the most. For more information, visit BuckfireLaw.com.