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Hundreds of residents file claims worth $334 million in dam failure

By Stephen Borowy

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    Michigan (WNEM) — A Michigan law firm filed claims for more than 400 residents against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) after the Edenville Dam failure last year. The aggregate amount of the claims for the group of claimants is more than $334 million.

The claims, filed by Pitt McGehee Palmer Bonanni & Rovers on June 18, allege FERC negligently entrusted the license to operate the Edenville Dam to private owners who it knew or should have known were unwilling or incapable of operating the dam safely, according to the law firm.

The claims also allege FERC failed to monitor the operation of the dam and ensure Boyce Hydro, the dam’s operator, had the capital, experience, and willingness to maintain the dam.

“The state of Michigan, through its agencies, and FERC had the power and the obligation to ensure the safety of residents and their properties from negligent owners and bad corporate actors,” said Michael Pitt, Senior Partner of Pitt McGehee Palmer Bonanni & Rivers. “Instead of exercising this authority in a prudent manner, the federal and state governments became complicit in a hazardous dam operation by negligently entrusting the license to a careless and heartless operator. This tragedy represents a massive failure of state and federal governments. State and federal government must be held accountable for its role in causing this disaster.”

If the claims are denied or the agency does not reach a decision after waiting six months, each individual then has six months to file a federal court lawsuit against the federal government for relief.

The failures of the Edenville and Sanford dams caused widespread devastation in Gladwin and Midland counties in May 2020. The Four Lakes Task Force officially acquired the Edenville, Sanford, Smallwood, and Secord dams from Boyce Hydro through eminent domain in January.

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