This case was last updated from Santa Clara County Superior Courts on 08/07/2019 at 18:42:13 (UTC).

Rivas-Cosby v. Santa Clara Valley Water District

Case Summary

On 03/22/2018 Rivas-Cosby filed a Personal Injury - Other Personal Injury lawsuit against Santa Clara Valley Water District. This case was filed in Santa Clara County Superior Courts, Downtown Superior Court located in Santa Clara, California. The Judges overseeing this case are Walsh, Brian C and Kirwan, Peter. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ******5289

  • Filing Date:

    03/22/2018

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Personal Injury - Other Personal Injury

  • Court:

    Santa Clara County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Downtown Superior Court

  • County, State:

    Santa Clara, California

Judge Details

Judges

Walsh, Brian C

Kirwan, Peter

 

Party Details

Plaintiff

Rivas-Cosby, Joan

Defendant

Santa Clara Valley Water District

Other

Superior Court of California

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff Attorney

Hare, Jeffrey B

Other Attorney

Superior Court of CA, County of Santa Clara

 

Court Documents

Notice

Notice CMC 10-5-18 at 10am in D19: Comment: CMC set for 10/5/18 at 10am in D19 (16 related cases)

Complaint: Amended

Complaint Consolidated First Amended: Comment: Consolidated First Amended Complaint

Notice

Notice CMC reset to 6-8-18 at 10am in D19: Comment: CMC reset to 6/8/18 at 10am in D19

Order

Order & Notice of Reassignment of Case to Dept 19: Comment: Order & Notice of Reassignment of Case to Dept 19, Hon. Peter H. Kirwan presiding - signed/TCZ

Summons: Issued/Filed

Summons Issued Filed:

Civil Case Cover Sheet

Civil Case Cover Sheet: Comment: COMPLEX

Complaint (Unlimited) (Fee Applies)

Complaint (Unlimited) (Fee Applies):

 

Docket Entries

  • 07/06/2018
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  • Complaint: Amended - Complaint Consolidated First Amended: Comment: Consolidated First Amended Complaint

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  • 06/25/2018
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  • Notice - Notice CMC 10-5-18 at 10am in D19: Comment: CMC set for 10/5/18 at 10am in D19 (16 related cases)

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  • 06/08/2018
  • Conference: Case Management - Judicial Officer: Kirwan, Peter; Hearing Time: 10:00 AM; Result: Held; Comment: (1st CMC)

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  • 06/08/2018
  • Minute Order

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  • 06/08/2018
  • Minute Order

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  • 04/03/2018
  • View Court Documents
  • Notice - Notice CMC reset to 6-8-18 at 10am in D19: Comment: CMC reset to 6/8/18 at 10am in D19

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  • 04/03/2018
  • View Court Documents
  • Order - Order & Notice of Reassignment of Case to Dept 19: Comment: Order & Notice of Reassignment of Case to Dept 19, Hon. Peter H. Kirwan presiding - signed/TCZ

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  • 03/22/2018
  • View Court Documents
  • Summons: Issued/Filed - Summons Issued Filed:

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  • 03/22/2018
  • View Court Documents
  • Civil Case Cover Sheet - Civil Case Cover Sheet: Comment: COMPLEX

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  • 03/22/2018
  • View Court Documents
  • Complaint (Unlimited) (Fee Applies) - Complaint (Unlimited) (Fee Applies):

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Complaint Information

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sandbags was told that it was not the District’s policy to distribute sandbags. At no time was there any alert or warning issued by either the DISTRICT, despite the fact that they knew serious flooding was very likely to occur.

34. After the flooding, it was discovered that in addition to participating in the County OES conference calls for a week, both the DISTRICT dispatched employees from their respective agencies to critical areas to monitor areas along Coyote Creek. Yet no action was taken to actively alert or notify residents, homeowners, or occupants of properties in harm’s way. By contrast, the County of Santa Clara — with the same information available to the DISTRICT, took proactive measures to commence evacuation of County facilities in the path of the flooding.

35. Based on over sixty (60) years of historical data that demonstrates a direct correlation between overspilling of Anderson Reservoir and flooding in the mid-Coyote Creek area, the DISTRICT knew, or should have known, that flooding would occur if Anderson Reservoir was allowed to fill and spill. DISTRICT further knew, or should have known, that downstream reaches of Coyote Creek were congested with vegetation, overgrowth, fallen trees, and debris, that would impede the flow of water. DISTRICT further knew, and in fact was attempting to alert the City of San Jose and other agencies of their concerns about downstream flooding in the mid-Coyote Creek area for at least a full week ahead of the actual flooding.

36. Anderson Reservoir and Dam falls within the jurisdiction of the State Department of Water’s Division of Safety of Dams (“DSOD”). DSOD rates the downstream hazard of each dam under its jurisdiction, based on potential impacts to life and property should the dam fail when operating with a full reservoir. The definitions are based on the Federal Guidelines for Inundation Mapping of Flood Risks Associated with Dam Incidents and Failures (FEMA P-946, July 2013). FEMA categorizes downstream hazard potential as low, significant, or high. DSOD adds a fourth category, “Extremely High,” to identify dams that may impact “highly populated

areas or critical infrastructure, or have short evacuation times.” (Emphasis added.) The DSOD

Data Definitions states that the downstream hazard classification indicates that the loss of human

Complaint for Damages - 10

life would be “considerable” in the event of failure. (The downstream hazard for Oroville Dam is also rated as “Extremely High.”). 37. Further still, DISTRICT was concerned enough about overspilling of Anderson Reservoir that it made an effort to see if DSOD would review and approve plans for a pump-over solution a full week ahead of the actual flooding. However, instead of adhering to standard procedures for approval of such projects, the inquiry was made informally via e-mail, and although DSOD indicated they would support the proposal, DISTRICT took no further steps to implement the plan other than to supply vendor photos and materials to DSOD. DSOD officials, who were responding to the disaster at Oroville Dam at the same time DISTRICT submitted their untimely request for review, appeared confused by the nature of DISTRICT’s request, and by the time the determination that more formal request procedures would be required, the flooding that might have been prevented or mitigated had already occurred. 38. Even with the benefit of historical data, significant warnings from NWS and other agencies, including the NWS, County OES, and the disaster at Oroville Dam that had occurred the previous week as a result of the same set of weather conditions that were impacting the Bay Area, DISTRICT officials failed to take any steps to prepare, warn, protect, or mitigate against the pending damages that would result from the flooding that occurred. Although emergency crews worked tirelessly throughout the day to rescue hundreds of victims, and evacuation shelters that had been set up the prior week were activated.

JURSIDICTION AND VENUE

39. The amount in controversy exceeds the minimum jurisdictional limit of Unlimited Jurisdiction for the Superior Court. 40. Venue is proper in Santa Clara County due to the fact that one or more Defendants reside in Santa Clara County and are subject to the personal jurisdiction of the Court, and further, that the injuries and damages to the Plaintiff occurred within the jurisdictional area of the County of

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58. Asadirect and proximate result of the flooding that resulted due to Defendant’s actions or failure to take action, Plaintiff were deprived of the use of their real and personal property, and had to undergo substantial efforts to replace, repair and/or restore their property in order to return. Defendants’ failure to act constituted a taking and damaging for a public use and purpose without compensation in violation of Article I, Section 19 of the California Constitution.

59. Asaresult of the flooding, Plaintiff real and personal property has been damaged in an amount that still being assessed, but that is in excess of the limited jurisdictional amounts of the Superior Court. Plaintiff will seek permission to amend this Complaint to provide an updated and more accurate statement of damages when that amount becomes known to Plaintiff.

60. Plaintiff have incurred and will continue to incur attorney, appraisal, construction, and engineering fees for the prosecution of this action, which fees are recoverable under the authority

of Code of Civil Procedure §1036.

THIRD CAUSE OF ACTION NUISANCE

61. Plaintiff incorporate by reference Paragraphs 1 through 60, inclusive, of this Complaint as though fully set forth herein. 62. Defendant DISTRICT owns, controls and operates Anderson Reservoir and Dam, and is responsible for maintaining, managing and operating portions of the Coyote Creek Watershed, including but not limited to Coyote Creek and its channels and tributaries. 63. Defendant DISTRICT’s operation and management of Anderson and Coyote Reservoirs, and its failure to keep Anderson Reservoir from filling and spilling, created or permitted a condition to exist that was and continues to be harmful to the public’s health, and/or was operated in a manner that interfered with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property, and

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