Couple Sues Over Yeager Airport Landslide
A couple from Charleston, West Virginia is suing Central Regional West Virginia Airport Authority for damages they endured during the landslide at Yeager Airport.
On March 12, 2015 about 130 homes were evacuated after a large portion of the hillside slipped into Two Mile Creek. One home and Keystone Apostolic Church were destroyed, and many other houses were damaged by flooding. Residents were given hotel vouchers and stayed in hotels for some time after the landslide.
Christopher J. Heavens of Heavens Law Firm PLLC proudly represents the couple, Theodore and Rebecca Carter, who claim that on March 12, after the EMAs collapsed and a landslide occurred, caused them to lose most of their “worldly possessions as a result of the ‘failure of the mechanically stabilized earth retention structure.” Rebecca Carter was raised in the home on Keystone Drive and had many fond memories of the home. The most devastating part of the situation is it all could have been prevented with repairs to the engineered material arresting systems.
Triad Engineering Inc., Cast & Baker Corporation and Nationwide Mutual Fire Insurance Company were also named as defendants in the suit for negligence. According to a complaint filed June 1 in Kanawha Circuit Court, in June 2013, Yeager Airport employees first noticed a problem with the safety area on Runway 5, when cracks began to appear. The Carter’ sclaim that after the airport noticed the cracks, it’s officials contacted Triad and both the airport and Triad identified that there were cracks in the engineered material arresting system and that it would only worsen if not repaired. In 2013, Triad surveyed the area, measuring and assessing the cracks and comparing its findings with a survey that had been done in 2009, after paving of the safety-overrun area was completed. According to the suit, Triad recommended additional monitoring of the area and in July 2014, a year after the cracks first appeared, Triad installed 28 monitoring points along the surface and sides of the embankment. Every one of the points showed movement between July and August 2014, indicating worsening problems.
On January 13, 2015, Terry Sayre, the Assistant Airport Director, spoke with a representative of Keystone Apostolic Church, and the representative of the church told Sayre they were concerned about the slip and its stability. The Carter’s claim that on March 8, Triad began a “subsurface” investigation to evaluate the fill movement, but neither Triad nor the Airport ever did anything to fix the worsening problems, and on March 10, settlement of the southernmost corner of the fill became more pronounced. Triad immediately notified airport officials, and on March 11, Airport Director Rick Atkinson called an emergency board meeting because of the impending catastrophe. The plaintiffs claim the defendants were negligent and violated their duties of reasonable care, and Nationwide breached its contract with the plaintiffs by its refusal to pay the Carters’ claim. The Carters are seeking compensatory and punitive damages with pre- and post-judgment interest.
On May 22, Yeager Airport filed a lawsuit against 20 companies involved with the design and construction of its runway extension project, alleging negligence and breach of contract. Triad and Cast & Baker were named as defendants in that lawsuit as well. According to the suit, the airport claims the runway extension and the man-made hillside that supported it were improperly designed, improperly tested, not properly inspected and not properly monitored. The airport hired lawyers from three local firms, Scott Segal, Timothy Bailey and Anthony Majestro, to file the lawsuit jointly on its behalf. Kanawha County Commissioner Kent Carper said the county still is doing everything it can to pay the victims of the landslide. He continued, “I think we’ve gone above and beyond trying to get everybody paid. Had these insurance companies stood up and did what they were supposed to do, we wouldn’t have this situation.”