The towns of Dowelltown and Liberty have a lawsuit pending against contractors and engineers responsible for a water line relocation project which allegedly was not done properly resulting in multiple leaks in the Dowelltown-Liberty Water System.
The original complaint was filed two years ago and the case is tentatively set for a jury trial in DeKalb County Circuit Court this July.
The water line relocation was required due to the state's widening and improvement of Highway 70.
According to the lawsuit, Highways Incorporated of Brentwood entered into a contract with the state on February 1st, 2002 to provide certain construction work in DeKalb County. As part of it's contract in providing a water line relocation for the Dowelltown-Liberty Water System, Highways Incorporated entered into a subcontract with Civil Constructors, Incorporated of Franklin for the purposes of carrying out the construction work on the water line system. The price for doing this subcontract work on the water lines was $1-million 206-thousand 786."
"Incorporated in the contract were the bid proposal and specification documents for construction of the line relocation which were approved by Robert Neal Westerman, registered engineer for James C. Hailey & Company, Incorporated of Nashville.
Frank Buck, attorney for the towns of Dowelltown and Liberty, says after the project was completed the system sprung several leaks during the fall of 2005. "The original complaint is against Civil Constructors, Incorporated and Highways, Inc. Highways had the original road contract and Civil subbed out the moving of the water line. The Hailey Engineering Company was supposed to do the inspection and when you read the original complaint filed at the courthouse it essentially alleges that the specifications for the contract were set out in a book. There was a book that's attached to the back of the complaint, which basically has all the specifications of how you are supposed to put the water line in the ground. It is the allegation of Dowelltown-Liberty that after seven leaks, the State of Tennessee supervised an inspection, digging up three different spots, and it was discovered that the water line did not meet the specifications of the contract anywhere except in one case. For all the rest, it is alleged that the water line was not laid pursuant to the contract."
"The utility district is asking for the replacement costs taking into account inflation. Keep in mind that the water line is a plastic product and an oil product so as the price of petroleum goes up or down on the International market for a barrel of oil, then the price of that water line also goes up or down. They are asking for the replacement costs of the entire line."
The leaks caused disruptions of service to customers of the Dowelltown-Liberty Water System on several occasions and subsequent "No Drinking Water" bans were issued. Customers were requested to boil their drinking water until it was checked to make sure there was no contamination.
Also named as defendants in the lawsuit are the North American Pipe Corporation of Houston, Texas, the Zurich American Insurance Company of Schaumburg, Illinois and the Tennessee Department of Transportation.
The original complaint seeks a judgment against all defendants except the state of Tennessee for compensatory damages in the amount of $1-million, 206-thousand, 786. A judgment is also sought against James C. Hailey & Company, Inc. and Civic Constructors, Inc. for punitive damages in the amount of $5-million dollars.