More than 400 Sugar Land residents chased out of the Riverstone subdivision following Hurricane Harvey are suing the Harris County company that designed and developed the stormwater management system.
Multiple suits were filed against Costello Inc., seeking more than $1 million in damages for the 423 residential homeowners, now called plaintiffs, living in the Sweetbriar, Millwood, The Orchard, Lost Creek and Shadow Glen neighborhoods within the Riverstone development.
The neighborhoods are within the Levee Improvement District (LID)19 which was created in 2007. Other residents in the Riverstone Development are within LID 15, which was created in 2001.
Costello Inc., designed LID 15 and LID 19 to handle the same amount of rainfall and flooding of the Brazos River but that did not happen, according to the suit.
The LID 19 neighborhood suffered “catastrophic rainwater inundation” from several feet of rainwater filling the streets and homes during Hurricane Harvey while LID 15 suffered no rainwater inundation, according to the suit.
“Documents obtained by the attorneys for the homeowners and reviewed by internationally renowned hydrologists and engineers familiar with Southeastern Texas LID designs revealed that Costello’s designs for the levees and pumping stations in LID 19 were wholly inadequate and was a direct cause to the loss and destruction of hundreds of homes,” according to a press release issued last week by the Houston law firm of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz.
The rain amounts around the Riverstone community were not unprecedented. Hurricane Harvey dropped 34.1 inches of rain in Riverstone. Hurricane Allison delivered 36.99 inches in 2001 and in 2001 Hurricane Claudette delivered 45 inches of rain between July 24 and July 27 in 1979, according to lawsuit records.
“Defendant Costello made numerous errors when designing the stormwater management system for LID 19. Costello failed to account for rainwater that would drain from LID 15 into LID 19 after a levee was removed along Haggerson Road. As a result of Defendant Costello’s acts and omissions, plaintiffs and their children have been displaced from their homes and have many months and years of costly repairs and rebuilding to come,” the lawsuit says.
Citing “gross negligence” the lawsuit claims that Costello’s conduct, “illustrates not only an attitude of conscious indifference for the rights, safety, and welfare of others but also shows Defendants actual and subjective awareness of the dangers of such conduct. Nevertheless, the Defendant proceeded with a conscious indifference to the rights, safety or welfare of others include plaintiffs. Therefore, the Defendant is liable for exemplary damages,” according to the suit.
The homeowners are represented by Muhammad Aziz of Abraham,Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz, Mike Simpson of Simpson & Simpson, James Moncus, III and Brian Vines of Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton and Anthony Johnson of the Attorney Group.
Costello has not responded to the lawsuit or to calls from the Fort Bend Star for comment.