One of the defendants in the lawsuits filed by Georgetown business owners and residents because of the 2011 sinkholes says they did nothing to cause the problems and should be dismissed from the suits.
S&ME Inc. is one of five defendants named in most of the six lawsuits that have been filed. It is the only one that has responded to the allegations.
The other defendants are Davis & Floyd Engineering, Republic Contracting, the South Carolina Department of Transportation, and the City of Georgetown.
In one of the suits, filed by Tony and Debbie Jordan, the city is not named.
In the lawsuits, which were filed in January, the plaintiffs allege the sinkholes were caused by the dewatering activities associated with the drainage project that the SCDOT is still working on around Georgetown City Hall.
At one point water was being removed from the ground at a rate of 60,000 gallons per hour.
The dewatering “altered the water tables and caused land subsidence,” the suit states. “[The] defendants knew or should have known the inherent risks of damage to structures above ground by an uncontrolled dewatering process.”
In its answer filed Feb. 22, S&ME — a firm working for Davis & Floyd — says the plaintiffs fail “to state facts sufficient to constitute a cause or causes of action against this defendant” and says it did not perform any dewatering on the project.
The company also says the plaintiffs have not presented a “proper affidavit” from an expert proving any negligence on the part of S&ME.
The suits also allege sheeting and king pilings that were driven into the ground “were inadequate to isolate the underground aquifer, thus allowing for water to be drawn from outside the intended isolation area.”
S&ME says the sheeting and pilings were not intended to be a barrier between the drainage project area and places surrounding the project.
“The sheeting and king pilings were installed as excavation support and bracing and not to isolate the dewatering to certain areas,” the answer states, adding “other parties” installed sheeting and king pilings and S&ME “had no responsibility for any dewatering activities.”
Because the company feels it bares no responsibility for the events that created the sinkholes, S&ME is asking to be dismissed from the lawsuit.
As of Tuesday, none of the other defendants had responded to the lawsuits.
By Scott Harper
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