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South Hall flooding case goes to US court
Businesses blame railroad's changes to culvert for damages, loss of income
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The case involving two Flowery Branch business owners seeking damages for their flooded property has been moved to U.S. District Court, with both parties filing disclosures this week.

Mike and Alan Wayne, owners of Wayne Brothers Inc., the Wayne Center and Waynes’ Lake, filed a demand for a jury trial May 8, claiming Norfolk Southern Railway Co. modified culverts that led to flood damage after heavy rains May 19, 2013.

Norfolk Southern Corp., which owns the railway company, is named as a co-defendant.

The brothers are asking for an award of punitive damages and attorneys’ fees.

Citing changes to the culverts that allow a free flow of water into Lake Lanier, the Waynes claim “the rainwater backed up behind the causeway and flooded the Plaintiff’s property and business,” according to its disclosure filed Monday.

Norfolk argues in its disclosure that “Plaintiff’s property would have flooded despite any emergency work performed by NSRC on the culverts at issue.”

The culverts, originally built in 1957, were repaired when Norfolk had to take “temporary emergency measures to stabilize the track structure.”

Casing pipes were installed in April and May 2013 as problems arose with the culverts, according to court documents.

The storm caused heavy flooding, at levels expected to occur between every 200 to 500 years in this area.

Norfolk contends in the disclosure that the Waynes’ property is in an area that would have flooded even with a less intense storm.

The initial complaint by the Waynes alleges Norfolk caused a trespass onto their properties, leading to damages to the property and a loss of rental income. In addition to the damage, the plaintiffs claim Norfolk has acted with reckless disregard and has responded litigiously.

Norfolk had 45 days to respond to the claim and did file June 16 with Hall County Superior Court. The case was then moved June 19 to U.S. District Court.

The Waynes claimed in the original complaint that Norfolk “did not seek the permission or approval of these changes from the U.S. Corps of Engineers,” which oversees Lake Lanier.

In the June 16 response, Norfolk said only that the corps “had not approved the emergency work prior to the work being performed.”

The plaintiffs have listed fellow Atlanta Highway business owners as witnesses, in addition to some Flowery Branch government officials.

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