Judge dismisses well-pollution lawsuit
A couple who say they fell ill from drinking well water allegedly polluted from nearby Wolf Creek lost a court fight this week.
Nevada County Superior Court Judge M. Kathleen Butz declined to give Kathy and Melvyn Hebert the right to sue Nevada County and the city of Grass Valley over the October 2000 alleged incident. Wolf Creek flows through Grass Valley.
The Heberts should have filed a claim within six months under state law, the judge ruled. They live south of Grass Valley and a stone’s throw from the creek.
The Heberts’ grandson, Jake Leonard, now 2, also fell ill drinking well water, they say, and is another plaintiff.
The Heberts said they did not file a timely claim because they did not understand the rules, were allegedly misled by county staff and had trouble finding an attorney, court papers show. They said they spent more than $25,000 to dig a new well and to pay medical bills.
Kathy Hebert on Thursday did not rule out pursuing the matter in the state’s Third District Court of Appeals. “Our well was healthy prior to that,” Hebert said, referring to the alleged pollution. “We feel that (the county and city) are responsible,” she said.
“We are disappointed by the judge’s ruling, yet not surprised. The decision is unfair,” Hebert wrote in an e-mail. “Her (the judge’s) cited reasons are not a fair perspective of the events that took place. We do not accept this decision. We will be working with our attorney, S. Stanley, to pursue the right end to this matter,” Hebert said, referring to Grass Valley attorney Sandra Stanley.
Edward Kiernan, deputy counsel for Nevada County, called the Heberts’ case “completely bogus.” The county staff was working with the family to pinpoint the source of the pollution, Kiernan said.
“They’re chasing after deep pockets. It’s my expectation that if they were to appeal, they would lose that as well,” Kiernan said.
The Heberts have 60 days to file an appeal.
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