Lawyer Sues Firm that did Drilling no Water Information was Provided, He Says

Lawyer Sues Firm that did Drilling no Water Information was Provided, He Says

Published on: June 11, 1999


Detroit Free Press (MI)
Date: June 11, 1999; Page: 3B
Edition: OAKLAND EDITION; Section: NWS

Call him the angriest of residents.

David Shea of Rochester Hills filed the first lawsuit against MCI WorldCom Inc. and Corby Energy Services on Thursday, alleging negligence in the drilling that punctured a water main in Auburn Hills on Monday morning. Shea said he was most angry because he didn’t find out about potential water contamination until after he and his children drank tap water and brushed their teeth.

“I haven’t gotten any answer about whether the water is safe. There’s been an absolute absence of information about what we’re supposed to do from here,” Shea, an attorney in private practice in Bingham Farms, said Thursday.

He’s seeking to have the suit become a class-action case on behalf of all affected residents and businesses.

The complaint was assigned to Oakland County Circuit Judge Richard Kuhn.

Shea said he’s not looking for compensation — and concedes he wouldn’t get much, anyway, if he wins the suit — but wants more accountability and responsiveness about health advisories when something like the water and sewer service is compromised.

Nonetheless, Shea’s attorney, E. Powell Miller of Troy, said he expects damages will be “enormous given the amount of harm, but the dust is going to settle before we know that.” Oakland County Community and Economic Development Director Jeff Kaczmarek estimated that as many as 180 restaurants were closed in addition to DaimlerChrysler and Great Lakes Crossing mall, and as many as 30,000 employees were losing $7.5 million daily in wages and benefits. Corby Energy of Taylor declined to comment on the suit.

DaimlerChrysler and the mall were to reopen today after being closed Wednesday and Thursday.

James Heath, assistant director of operations for the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, said Corby’s drillers were 300 feet away in a trailer park when their remote-controlled auger struck the underside of the 42-inch diameter main.

Digging a small tunnel alongside the pipe, to see where the auger would cross, could have prevented the mishap, Heath said.

Remote-controlled drills have poked open Detroit water lines at least five times since directional drilling technology became widespread in the 1980s, Heath said.

Also in dispute is whether Corby had all the necessary permits to drill. MCI said it obtained all the paperwork. Auburn Hills Assistant City Manager Patrick Greve said the city has no record of it.
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