Edward W. Cantley, Sr., et al. v. Lincoln County Commission

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Plaintiffs below filed an action against the Lincoln County Commission seeking recovery for damages sustained as a result of two Mud River floods in the course of a week in November 2003. The plaintiffs asserted that the county commission had negligently maintained the river for a number of years, despite having statutory power to act, and despite numerous warnings issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Circuit Court of Lincoln County dismissed the plaintiff's complaint. The circuit court determined that the county commission did not have a duty to engage in flood prevention, and that another entity formed in 1965, known as the "Middle Fork Drainage, Levee and Reclamation District of Lincoln County," has sole power to engage in flood prevention on that part of the Mud River, and that the numerous warnings issued by the Corps of Engineers were directed to the drainage district, not to the county commission. On appeal, the plaintiffs argue that the county commission does have a statutory obligation to alleviate flooding, and that the drainage district is a defunct entity. At the very least, the plaintiff argues, it should be allowed to conduct discovery on the nature of the relationship between the county commission and the drainage district. The county commission responds that the plaintiffs simply sued the wrong entity, and that the drainage district is capable of being sued. (Edward W. Cantley, Sr., et al. are represented by Rudolph L. DiTrapano, Lonnie C. Simmons and Heather M. Langeland, DiTrapano, Barrett & DiPiero, PLLC, Charleston WV and Jason E. Huber, Forman & Huber, Charleston WV. The Lincoln County Commission is represented by R. Carter Elkins and Andrew P. Ballard, Campbell Woods, PLLC, Huntington WV. )