Summary Judgment in Case Involving Water Runoff onto Commercial Property


Attorney Sarah Christie successfully obtained summary judgment on behalf of husband and wife homeowner defendants in a water diversion case involving more than twenty (20) named parties.  The Plaintiff filed an action against numerous homeowners and the property developers alleging negligence, private nuisance and trespass in connection with claimed damage to his property allegedly caused by water runoff flowing from an adjacent subdivision.  The plaintiff further alleged that the subject damage had caused a significant diminution to the value of his property and prevented further development of the property which was located near a large golf course.  The plaintiff sought permanent injunctions and damages estimated between $900,000 and $2.85 million dollars.

The plaintiff alleged that the plans for the development of the subject subdivision called for raising the grade of the site by more than six feet, re-grading the land located south of the plaintiff’s property, construction of swales between each homeowners’ property and the placement of drainage tiles, gravel and drainage pipes to divert water flow. The plaintiff argued that the improper construction of the subdivision properties had caused significant water flow onto his property and that same had not occurred prior to the construction of the subdivision.  The plaintiff further argued that the defendant homeowners’ improper maintenance of the property, in addition to a failure to remedy the nuisance created by the original property developers, had resulted in the claimed damage to the plaintiff’s property.

Attorney Christie argued that the plaintiff had failed to show that the homeowners had committed any affirmative, intentional act to constitute trespass.  Further, defense counsel argued that the plaintiff failed to submit any evidence to support a finding of nuisance or that the homeowners failed to make reasonable use of their land.  Lastly, defense counsel argued that the plaintiff was unable to meet his burden of proof as to causation as the plaintiff submitted no expert testimony to prove that any increase in water flow existed or that same caused the alleged damage to plaintiff’s land and, as such, the plaintiff’s claims of negligence necessarily failed.

Following oral argument, Justice Constance M. Sweeney of Hampden Superior Court granted summary judgment for the defendant homeowners.

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