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HKQ Firm News

PennDOT sued by Woodlands

By Steve Mocarsky, Times Leader Staff Writer 10/20/2008

WILKES-BARRE - The Woodlands Inn & Resort is suing the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and a state contractor for more than $1 million in flooding damage from Laurel Run Creek that an engineer attributes to substandard work and design done on a culvert opening.

According to a complaint filed Friday in Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas, PennDOT and CECO Associates Inc. - a consulting and engineering services firm in Scranton - in 1999 began evaluating the replacement of an existing arch culvert that allowed Laurel Run Creek to pass under state Route 315 in an area adjacent to The Woodlands in Plains Township.

The Woodlands has continuously operated in the same location on Route 315 since 1969 and, until Nov. 16, 2006, had never sustained any flooding or water damage as a result of the rising waters of the creek, which borders the property, the complaint notes.

The culvert replacement was done in conjunction with reconstruction work on 315. A new box culvert was designed by the defendants and replaced the arch culvert. All work had been completed sometime before a rainstorm on Nov. 16, 2006.

During and after that storm, water from Laurel Run Creek backed up at the new culvert, overflowed the banks of the creek and flowed onto The Woodlands property and into various structures, causing significant damage to buildings, personal property, land, facilities and secondary structures, according to the suit.

The situation caused a loss of income for the resort as well as extra expenses, all of which resulted in damages in excess of $1 million, the complaint states.

Woodlands attorneys Joseph E. Kluger of Scranton and Paul R. Bartolacci of Philadelphia maintain that CECO and the state were negligent and careless in several ways.

They failed to properly analyze the watershed area, used improper water flow calculations in the construction and design of the new culvert, designed the culvert with improper slopes and dimensions and failed to recognize and consider other culverts along Route 315 that were significantly larger than the new culvert, the attorneys wrote.

The defendants also used improper historical weather and storm data in calculating culvert design and construction, used improper survey data relating to the location of The Woodlands, and failed to properly prepare, clean and dredge the stream bed in conjunction with the new culvert construction, they wrote.

Also filed was a document by Roger Wuggles, a licensed professional engineer and an associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Lafayette College.

Wuggles states, based on the information he reviewed, there is "a reasonable probability that the care, skill or knowledge exercised or exhibited in the design work" of the culvert "fell outside acceptable professional standards, and that conduct was a cause of the flooding sustained by The Woodlands."

©Times Leader 2008

About HKQ Law

Hourigan, Kluger & Quinn is considered one of the top civil litigation and commercial law firms that has had the privilege of representing more families in the courtroom than any other NEPA firm. The attorneys at HKQ Law have been honored as Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers, Best Law Firms by US News and World Report, and have received the AV Preeminent Rating by Martindale-Hubbel. HKQ Law was recently recognized for one of the top 20 Verdicts in Pennsylvania.

The firm’s Personal Injury Team, led by Attorney Joe Quinn, Jr., has won some of the largest verdicts and settlements in the region's history. The Personal Injury Team focuses on a wide array of personal injury claims and civil litigation, including medical malpractice, auto and truck accidents, aviation accidents, unsafe vehicles, dangerous or defective products, workplace injuries (worker's compensation), construction site accidents, claim denials by insurance companies, dangerous drugs, defective children's products, nursing home abuse and neglect, and falls due to unsafe conditions (slip and fall).

Attorney Joseph A Quinn, Jr. is one of only 100 attorneys in the United States (and one of only three in Pennsylvania) honored with membership in the Inner Circle of Trial Advocates, and one of only 500 attorneys worldwide chosen to be a Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. He has been a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer every year since the program began and has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America every year since the publication was established in 1987. Best Lawyers also named him top personal injury attorney for Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley. In addition, Best Lawyers, in conjunction with U.S. News & World Report, has designated HKQ a Tier 1 Best Law Firm across multiple categories in Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley.

Since the inception of the firm, the Commercial / Corporate Team led by Attorney Allan Kluger has provided comprehensive, integrated legal services to many of Northeastern and Eastern Pennsylvania's largest corporations, businesses, banks, non-profits and institutions, handling matters involving labor and employment, wills, trusts and estate planning, estate administration, elder law, commercial transactions, residential and commercial real estate, zoning, land use and development, telecommunications, mediations and arbitrations, commercial litigation, title insurance, business planning and business succession, corporate/business structuring, employment discrimination law for employers, banking, creditor’s rights, finance, lender liability defense, covenants not to compete, construction law, mergers and acquisitions and other business matters.

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