Neighbours Found Liable for Flooding Damage
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MEDEMA v McCREIGHT
Trial conducted by Daniel Poulin in April of 2016.
Our client, Mr. Medema, sued his neighbours, Mr. and Mrs. McCreight (the Defendants) for damage to his property which occurred as a result of water flowing from the Defendants’ property during a heavy rain on June 3, 2014.
The Defendants’ property was uphill from our client’s property, and was undeveloped grassland before the Defendants began to develop it and construct their home, driveways, and garage on it in 2011. Prior to 2011, there was not a history of significant runoff coming from the Defendants’ property when it rained. After the Defendants’ property began to be developed, there were several occasions on which the Defendants’ neighbours, including our client, complained about water running onto the road and toward the neighbours’ properties. The Defendants took some steps to have drainage facilities installed to reduce the problem.
On June 3, 2014, there was a heavy rainfall that caused some buildings to be flooded in parts of the North Okanagan. The water runoff from the Defendants’ property overwhelmed the drainage facilities that had been installed and ran across the road to our client’s property, causing significant flooding to his yard and basement. Our client’s costs for repairing his property was over $25,000.00.
At trial, our client relied on an expert report by a geotechnical engineer which found that the Defendants’ development of their property significantly reduced the permeability of the ground to rainwater, and therefore significantly increased the amount of water that was running off their property when it rained. The Honourable Judge McKimm found that the Defendants were liable for that water runoff and the damage it caused. The judge first found them liable under the law of Nuisance, which means that the Defendants’ use of their property caused an unreasonable interference with our client’s property. The judge found that the Defendants were also liable under the law of Negligence, because they should have been aware that the improvements to their property could cause flooding to their neighbours, and they did not take reasonable steps to alleviate those foreseeable risks. The judge awarded our client $25,000.00 plus costs, which is the most a Provincial Court Judge can award.