Gerry and Judy McManus believe Gwinnett County should not allow water running off new road construction to flood across their property, kill trees, wash away fish, and create sinkholes.
Gwinnett County believes otherwise.
In court filings, the county denies damaging the McManuses’ property. And besides, county lawyers argued, the county has the right to send as much water as it wants onto part of the McManuses’ land.
Five years after the McManuses say the damage began, the Georgia Supreme Court has sided with the couple in a lawsuit they filed against the county. The case has not yet gone to trial. But last week’s Supreme Court ruling affirmed a lower court’s interim order requiring the county to stop and repair the damage.
“The county has used taxpayer money to damage and then defend damaging the McManuses’ property for years,” said Matt Reeves, a lawyer representing the couple. “The county is not above the law in honoring private property rights.”
If the McManuses win at trial, the county could be on the hook for more than a million dollars in damages, court costs and repairs — costs the McManuses say could have been avoided if county officials had designed a better drainage system in the first place.