Farmington dismissed as defendant from resident’s lawsuit regarding storm drainage on her property

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FARMINGTON -- The city has been voluntarily dismissed as a defendant in a civil suit filed by a Farmington resident relating to storm drainage on her property from Goose Creek Village subdivision.

Phyllis Young, who lives on Goose Creek Road below the subdivision, filed the original lawsuit July 15, 2022. The suit has been amended twice since then.

In the complaint, Young alleges that stormwater drainage from the subdivision off Double Springs Road has increased the amount and the velocity of water runoff directly onto her property at 546 Goose Creek Road, causing damage due to flooding, mud and trash.

The lawsuit requests a preliminary injunction prohibiting further construction and prohibiting the city from approving further construction.

Young, through her attorney David Dixon of Farmington, filed a motion Sept. 1 to voluntarily dismiss the city from the suit, without prejudice.

Washington County Circuit Court Judge Beth Storey Bryan granted the motion and signed an order Sept. 4 to dismiss the city.

That leaves the following as defendants in the complaint: Double Springs Development, Red Canyon Development, Riggins Properties, Riggins Construction of NWA, Jorgenson & Associates Consulting Engineers, Olsson Associates, KMS Consulting Engineering, D.R. Horton of NW Arkansas, Riggins Commercial Construction & Development, and John Doe 1, 2 and 3.

Mayor Ernie Penn last week said he was glad the city has been released from the suit.

"The good thing about it is that the Municipal League attorney [representing the city] was very thorough and very detailed," Penn said.

The city's attorney, Gabrielle Gibson of North Little Rock, asked Dixon via email if Young would be willing to voluntarily dismiss the city from the lawsuit.

Gibson's letter outlined several reasons why she believed Young would not prevail against the city, including one that the city is entitled to tort immunity for negligence if it does not have liability insurance that would provide coverage for the alleged injuries.

Gibson also said in the letter she believed the city would be willing to work with the parties toward a resolution, even if it is no longer a party in the suit, as long as any proposed drainage revisions are in compliance with the city's rules and regulations.

Young last week said her request to have the city dismissed from the lawsuit does not mean she now believes the city isn't responsible for what is happening to her land from storm drainage off the subdivision.

"I feel really bad about dismissing them because I feel I've let myself down as well as the other citizens of Farmington," Young said. "But I don't really understand all the legal technicalities around the city's immunity. I certainly don't agree with it, but I don't understand their immunity when they did not act responsibly toward me and others affected by the same water."

Young, who has attended many Planning Commission and City Council meetings to discuss her concerns about the drainage, said she still plans to do everything she can to get the city to enforce the ordinances it has about subdivisions and drainage.

She said she understands the city relies on its engineers but believes city officials have a "civic duty" to follow up if a resident comes forward with what supposedly is a problem with the drainage system.

According to court records for the lawsuit, a preliminary injunction hearing has been set for Nov. 15-16 in circuit court and a jury trial has been scheduled to start April 15.