Fort Lauderdale, FL— Attorneys Tuesday debated who bears fault for a water main break that left roughly 9,200 Fort Lauderdale businesses without water for two days, as trial opened a Florida construction company. Las Olas Company, Inc., et al. v. Florida Communications Concepts, CACE19019911.
During drilling work as part of a Florida Power & Light construction project, workers from Geo & Yus Corp. struck a Fort Lauderdale water main. The July 2019 break forced thousands of area businesses to close for days and led to boil-water and other restrictions across a swath of the city.
Geo & Yus was hired by Florida Communications Concepts, or FCC, the local subcontractor overseeing the project and the only defendant at trial. And plaintiffs, the class of businesses affected by the break, claim FCC failed to follow proper protocol on the project.
During Tuesday’s openings, The Moskowitz Law Firm’s Adam Moskowitz walked jurors through the timeline leading to the break. He contended FCC had an FPL-provided map showing the water main’s location, but failed to properly describe the drilling site when completing an "811" dig notification form. He added that FCC compounded the error by failing to dig test “potholes” or use radar to look for water mains, and that they did not have licensed representatives on-site to supervise Geo’s drilling.
"It’s our conclusion that FCC is liable. They’re 100 percent liable,” Moskowitz said. “They didn’t give the proper address to the city and they didn’t take the proper safety precautions, so they’re liable.”
But FCC argues the City of Fort Lauderdale is actually responsible for the break. On Tuesday, Kelley Kronenberg’s Gary Brown told jurors that FCC properly submitted the "811" form, which notifies authorities of an intention to dig and requests the location of any underground utilities at the site. However, he said, the city failed to mark the water main’s location.
That marking would have prompted further investigation and avoided the break, Brown told jurors.
“The City of Fort Lauderdale utterly failed to do their due diligence,” Brown said. “That’s what this is all about.”
Trial, over liability and apportionment of fault, is expected to last through next week.
Email Arlin Crisco at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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