The governing bodies of Berkley and Huntington Woods have approved settlement agreements for a class action lawsuit dealing with the 2014 and 2017 flood events. Seen here are damaged belongings placed on the curb for trash pickup outside Berkley homes after the 2017 flood.

The governing bodies of Berkley and Huntington Woods have approved settlement agreements for a class action lawsuit dealing with the 2014 and 2017 flood events. Seen here are damaged belongings placed on the curb for trash pickup outside Berkley homes after the 2017 flood.

File photo by Mike Koury


Berkley, Huntington Woods approve settlements related to 2014, 2017 floods

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published January 11, 2021

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BERKLEY/HUNTINGTON WOODS — Two cities have approved a settlement agreement connected to a class action lawsuit related to the 2014 and 2017 floods in Oakland County.

The cities of Berkley and Huntington Woods are two of 10 municipalities in the county that were sued by homeowners who were looking to recover monetary damages to their homes from the floods.

Berkley’s City Council approved the settlement at its Dec. 21 meeting. According to the city, it received 2,181 claims from property owners for damages suffered in the 2014 flood and 257 claims for the 2017 flood, totaling 2,438.

A statement from the city said that the monetary damages demanded from Berkley alone exceeded $22 million dollars.

“After extensive litigation, a unified defense approach and negotiations by the county and municipal co-defendants with the claimants’ legal representatives has resulted in a tentative global settlement agreement, covering all the cases and claims against all county and municipal co-defendants, in the amount of $11.5 million, plus $1.5 million in future sewer system improvements,” the statement reads.

Berkley’s portion of the $11.5 million settlement is $385,308. The city also will commit $196,070 to future improvements of its sewer system. City Manager Matt Baumgarten said the money that will be used to pay the settlement will come from various city funds and insurance.

“We continue to work as a region on improving how we handle stormwater,” he said. “That’s true for the county. That’s true for each of the 10 municipalities that were involved in this particular suit, and it’s true for all of Oakland County. We continue to take regional approaches to addressing the issue of stormwater, and changes in the climate are yielding more intense rainstorms, and no individual city can combat that on their own.”

The Huntington Woods City Commission voted to approve its settlement agreement at its Jan. 5 meeting. City Manager Amy Sullivan said the city’s portion of the settlement is $250,000, which will be covered by insurance, and another $148,751 will go toward improvements of its sewer system.

Sullivan stated she did not know how many claims the city had received from residents from the two floods.

“I think from the city and the residents’ perspective, everybody is glad to have a conclusion,” she said. “It has been ongoing for years and years and years, and we’d like to be able to close that chapter.”

The settlement money will be turned over to the plaintiffs’ attorneys, Liddle & Dubin P.C. Baumgarten said he didn’t know how much the claimants would receive and that it was up to the attorneys to disburse the funds.

“Ourselves and the nine other communities and then Oakland County and the Water Resource Commissioner’s Office all settled for amounts,” he said. “Those amounts will go to the firm. The firm will then decide what their portion of it is and what portion is reserved for the individuals.”

A representative from Liddle & Dubin could not be reached by press time.

The other cities involved in the lawsuit are Clawson, Ferndale, Hazel Park, Madison Heights, Oak Park, Pleasant Ridge, Royal Oak and Troy. Each city’s governing body also has to approve its settlement agreement.

The Ferndale City Council and Pleasant Ridge City Commission took up their portions of the settlements at their meetings on Jan. 11 and Jan. 12, respectively. Those meetings took place after the Woodward Talk went to print.

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