Fairfax County, VA Sues Local Homebuilder for Off-Site Sediment, Erosion, and Stormwater Damages
August 2001

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors sued The Airston Group, a local homebuilding company, for alleged violations of local soil erosion control ordinance. In this unusual case the plaintiff decided to attempt to collect damages for alleged off-site damages. In 1997 the defendant began construction of the Governors Run Subdivision about -mile upstream of an existing private lake west of Washington, DC. Property owners located around the lake complained of turbidity in the lake and took their complaints directly to the County Board of Supervisors and Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board. The damages are based upon projected cost of dredging of Lake Martin, restoring -mile of stream channel, construction of new water quality impoundment, and revisions to two existing water quality impoundments constructed by the developer. The plaintiff claims that it is not stopple from collecting for damages due to the fact that the plaintiff approved the construction plans and that the defendant constructed the approved plans and was released from the development. After release from the project, the plaintiff kept $375,000 in performance bonds and sued for $ 2.4 million in damages.

The defendant retained Dr. Barrett L. Kays, Soil & Groundwater Scientist, and President of Landis, Inc. of Raleigh, NC to assist in its defense by serving as the senior expert witness, coordinating the team of experts, and providing litigation defense support services to the Reed Smith Hazel & Thomas law firm. The team of experts also includes Mr. Henry L. Lucas, P.E. and President of ECS, Ltd. of Chantilly, VA; Mr. Howell B. Simmons, P.E. and President of Paciulli Simmons & Associates of Fairfax, VA; Mr. William G. Hawes, L.S. and President of Gallifant Hawes & Jeffers, Ltd of Fairfax, VA; and Mr. John B. Walsh, P.E. and President of Waterway Surveys & Engineering, Ltd. of Virginia Beach, VA. The defendant believes that the plaintiff's allegations and claims are without merit and choose to challenge on evidentiary grounds the vast majority of plaintiff's case. Within two weeks after receipt of the expert reports and statement of expert opinions, the plaintiff choose to voluntary dismiss the case. Mr. Steven T. Webster, Litigator, Reed Smith Hazel & Thomas, of Leesburg, VA is counsel for The Airston Group.