Arlington still dealing with litigation from the 1990s

ARLINGTON — The city thought the issue was settled two decades ago.

A legal entanglement that started in the mid-1990s over flood damage is back in court.

The state Court of Appeals recently ruled that a company can pursue claims for damage on a property it owned near the Gleneagle subdivision.

A limited liability company that once operated a steel manufacturing plant in Arlington is seeking damages from the city and the developers involved in the Gleneagle subdivision.

The company, Holden-McDaniel Partners, alleges that the city and developers designed and operated a stormwater management system at Gleneagle that caused runoff and flooding as far back as 1990 and as recently as 2009.

It echoes claims from 1995, when Holden-McDaniel first sought damages for flooding related to the stormwater system. Those claims became part of a lawsuit later that year.

When the company filed its original damage claims, it also filed a separate lawsuit against the city over an alleged delay in permitting for a new manufacturing building. At the time, Holden-McDaniel ran HCI Steel Products, Inc., which shuttered in 2012.

In 1998, the parties settled for $750,000 and Holden-McDaniel agreed to drop its claims.

The city thought it was over until 2011, when Holden-McDaniel again asserted that the city was liable for flooding on its property near Gleneagle.

“When this lawsuit was first served, I think those of us who had been around long enough to remember the first lawsuit were surprised,” said Steven Peiffle, the city’s attorney. “We thought it had been taken care of.”

In 2015, a trial court dismissed Holden-McDaniel’s most recent claims. The court cited the 1998 settlement. The company appealed.

The 2011 suit was in response to flooding that happened after the 1998 settlement, said David Bricklin, attorney for Holden-McDaniel.

“The property owners were tired of having their operations interrupted,” he said.

They have since sold the property, he said.

The worst of the flooding was in 2009, a year when unusually high snowfall, followed by a cold snap and then rain, led to flooding around Western Washington. Peiffle argues that flooding on the Holden-McDaniel property was primarily due to the weather, but Bricklin says it was poor stormwater management.

“I think it’s a case that demonstrates the problems that arise when we don’t have good regulations for new development,” Bricklin said. “And we allow folks to clear hillsides and reroute stormwater and not think through what it’s going to mean to downstream property owners.”

In a 22-page opinion filed earlier this month, the state Court of Appeals reversed the lower court’s decision to dismiss Holden-McDaniel’s claims.

There was discussion about the language of the settlement and whether papers were fastened together. The city said the permitting lawsuit and the original damage claim from Holden-McDaniel were attached when they were delivered in 1995; the company said they weren’t. The judge decided it didn’t make a difference and ruled that the flooding claims were not part of the permitting lawsuit, but were rather a separate issue.

The city insisted that the 1998 settlement applied to both the permitting and stormwater suits. Holden-McDaniel argued that the agreement specified the permitting suit, not the stormwater claims, and that the company still could sue over future flooding. The appeals court agreed.

Peiffle, the city’s attorney, now plans to bring arguments that were not considered when the court dismissed the claims in 2015. That includes debate about what actually caused the property damage and whether Holden-McDaniel waited too long to take its case to court.

The case raises questions about how long cities should be wary of decades-old disputes, Peiffle said.

The city doesn’t plan to take an appeal to the next level, which would be the state Supreme Court, he said. If no other parties appeal, the case likely will return to Snohomish County Superior Court for further litigation.

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; kbray@heraldnet.com

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Kim Skarda points at her home on a map on Thursday, June 20, 2024 in Concrete, Washington. A community called Sauk River Estates has a very steep slope above it. There is a DNR-approved timber sale that boarders the estate properties, yet they were not consulted about the sale before approval. The community has already appealed the sale and has hired their own geologist to conduct a slope stability report at the site. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Beneath steep slope, Concrete neighbors fear landslides from logging above

Nielsen Brothers plans to cut 54 acres of timber directly behind the community of 83 homes. Locals said they were never consulted.

Law enforcement respond to a person hit by a train near the Port of Everett Mount Baker Terminal on Thursday, June 27, 2024 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
2 killed in waterfront train crashes were near Mukilteo ‘quiet zone’

In June, two people were hit by trains on separate days near Mukilteo Boulevard. “These situations are incredibly tragic,” Everett’s mayor said.

Rob Plotnikoff takes a measurement as a part of the county's State of Our Waters survey at Tambark Creek in Bothell, Washington on Monday, July 1, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Snohomish County stream team bushwhacks a path to healthier waterways

This summer, the crew of three will survey 40 sites for the State of Our Waters program. It’s science in locals’ backyards.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
4th suspect arrested after Mountlake Terrace home robbery

Police arrested Taievion Rogers, 19, on Tuesday. Prosecutors charged his three alleged accomplices in April.

A 10 acre parcel off of Highway 99, between 240th and 242nd Street Southwest that the city of Edmonds is currently in the process of acquiring on Monday, July 10, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edmonds ditches $37M Landmark public park project off Highway 99

The previous mayor envisioned parks and more in south Edmonds, in a historically neglected area. The new administration is battling budget woes.

Edmonds school official sworn in as Mount Vernon supe

Victor Vergara took his oath of office last week. He was assistant superintendent of equity and student success in Edmonds.

Granite Falls ‘10-foot alligator’ is actually a tegu named ‘Tazz’

Anybody who spots the docile lizard, last seen near Granite Falls, is asked to notify 911, so Tazz can be reunited with owner.

Photos by Olivia Vanni / The Herald
Gabby Bullock sits on her bed in a room she shares with another housemate on June 14 in Everett.
‘We don’t have openings’: SnoCo recovery houses struggle with demand

Advocates say the homes are critical for addiction recovery. But home prices make starting a sober living house difficult.

Melinda Grenier serves patrons at her coffee truck called Hay Girl Coffee during the third annual Arlington Pride event in Arlington, Washington on Sunday, June 2, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Food safety team defends its work: it’s a ‘high pressure, thankless’ job

Management tried to set the record straight about long permit delays in Snohomish County.

Providence Regional Medical Center Everett. (Olivia Vanni/The Herald)
Global tech outage leaves a mark on Snohomish County

The CrowdStrike software update hit some systems at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett and briefly disrupted 911 operations.

Performers joust during the Washington Midsummer Renaissance Faire at Sky Meadows Park in Snohomish, Washington, on Sunday, Aug. 06, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Royalty and revelry: The spirit of the Renaissance comes to Monroe

The annual Renaissance fair will open its doors every weekend from July 20 to Aug. 18

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.