Jury Finds FL Company Responsible for Break That Left 9,000+ Businesses Without Water

Posted by Arlin Crisco on Dec 16, 2021 5:00:12 PM


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Fort Lauderdale, FL— A Florida state court jury Monday found a construction company largely liable for a critical water main break that left more than 9,000 Fort Lauderdale-area businesses without water for days. Las Olas Co., Inc., et al. v. Florida Communications Concepts, CACE19019911. 

The 17th Circuit Court jury deliberated for roughly two hours before finding Florida Communications Concepts, or FCC, responsible for the July 2019 water main break near Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport. The break, which occurred during digging as part of a Florida Power & Light Construction Project, forced thousands of businesses to close for days and led to boil-water and other restrictions across a wide swath of the city. 


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Monday’s verdict, on liability alone, wrapped a five-day trial in the case, brought by a class of roughly 9,200 businesses affected by the break. Jurors found FCC, the local subcontractor overseeing the project and the only defendant at trial, 90 percent responsible. Geo & Yus Corp. the firm hired by FCC to perform the dig, was found 8 percent at fault. However, jurors concluded FCC was vicariously liable for Geo & Yus’s negligence, pushing the company's total responsibility to 98%. 

Jurors concluded the City of Fort Lauderdale was 2 percent at fault. 

With the trial limited to liability, the sides focused on the timeline leading up to the break and who was ultimately to blame for its impact. FCC argues that it followed appropriate procedures in submitting an “811” dig form - which notifies authorities of an intention to dig and requests the location of any underground utilities at the site - but that the city failed to properly mark the location of the water main. 

During Monday’s closings, Kelley Kronenberg’s Gary Brown walked jurors through evidence he argued showed the city was actually the root cause of the break. “This should have been an easy job. It should have been a walk in the park,” Brown said. “But it wasn’t, for one reason, and one reason alone: The city failed to mark its water main as it should.”

But the plaintiffs argue FCC failed to adequately describe the drilling site in its 811 form and did not properly supervise Geo & Yus during the dig itself. On Monday, Conrad Scherer’s William Scherer detailed evidence he said showed that FCC was not qualified to perform the project and that it made numerous missteps throughout the dig’s planning and execution. 

“Florida Communications Concepts… failed to put safety first,” Scherer said. “This was a real catastrophe that was truly caused by FCC.”   

Trial over damages is expected sometime in 2022. 

CVN has reached out to the attorneys in the case and will update this article with their comments. 

Email Arlin Crisco at

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Topics: Las Olas v. FPL