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Flood victims consider suing state, county and South Bend

 Associated Press
September 9, 2016
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Flood victims in the South Bend area are considering filing a lawsuit against the state, county and city.

The South Bend Tribune reports that Edward and Wanda Walton have served the Indiana Department of Transportation, St. Joseph County and the city of South Bend with a "notice of tort claim." The action is legally required step before a person can sue a body of government in Indiana.

The Waltons lost their home and most of its contents during record rainfall Aug. 15.

The notice says residents suffered from the flood because of the governmental entities' negligence in controlling the increased runoff from the recently completed U.S. 31 project.

The notice indicates that their attorney, Charles Rice, might seek class action certification from a judge if he files a lawsuit.

"We are investigating this and served the tort claims notice on the state, county and city," Rice said.

Rice has sent the county a request for public records that includes records related to the Phillips Ditch, a county-maintained drainage ditch that crosses U.S. 31 and runs northwest through the neighborhood, along with records pertaining to surface water runoff into the ditch and impact of the state's realignment project.

In an email to the newspaper, Indiana Department of Transportation spokesman Doug Moats said "it's been documented that the area in southern South Bend, in the region of the new U.S. 31 corridor, has had high water issues for many years when there is a substantial rainfall. This has been occurring since before the new U.S. 31 was constructed."

Moats said they sympathize with everyone who was affected by the flooding and that they are "communicating with St. Joseph County to investigate whether cooperation on this matter could help."

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