OROVILLE (CBS13) – A multi-million dollar claim has been filed against the State of California for damages in the Oroville spillway crisis. A farm in Oroville plans to sue the state, after crops were wiped out in flood waters.
When the Oroville Dam crisis hit, the floodgates opened and damage was done downstream.
Niall McCarthy, attorney representing JEM Farms said, “This was known. It was foreseeable. It was just a matter of when, not if.”
McCarthy is one of the attorney’s representing JEM Farms in Oroville. The walnut growers were hit hard, losing 24 acres of trees, which is an estimated loss of $15 million, considering the amount of money the trees would have produced over their lifetime.
“Their walnut trees are now literally under water. They’re part of the Feather River,” said McCarthy.
JEM Farms has now filed a claim against the State of California, alleging the Department of Water Resources was reckless and negligent. The claim accuses the DWR of ignoring signs for years of a catastrophe that was certain to come crashing down. In February, when the dam’s main spillway failed, the DWR began releasing water, which flooded the farmland. McCarthy says that never would have happened had the state properly maintained the dam in the first place.
“If you’re the State of California, then you have a legal obligation to keep the people of the Oroville area and their property safe, and you simply didn’t live up to the end of your bargain.”
The Division of Safety of Dams is also named in the claim, and McCarthy says he’s certain even more claims will flood in as dozens of other businesses and residents are also left hanging out to dry.
If the state denies this claim, the attorneys will then proceed with a lawsuit and a trial. McCarthy says state officials will have to testify about what they knew in regards to the dam. CBS13 did reach out to the Department of Water Resources for comment, but never heard back.