Lawsuit over 2019 water main break to go to trial after talks break down

Workers look over debris in the Great Miami River near the Keowee Street Bridge a day after a large water main break interrupted drinking water service to much of Montgomery County on Feb 13, 2019.  MARSHALL GORBY / STAFF
Workers look over debris in the Great Miami River near the Keowee Street Bridge a day after a large water main break interrupted drinking water service to much of Montgomery County on Feb 13, 2019. MARSHALL GORBY / STAFF

Credit: Marshall Gorby

Credit: Marshall Gorby

The city of Dayton’s multimillion dollar lawsuit against a company it alleges is responsible for the massive 2019 water main break that spilled millions of gallons of drinking water into the the Great Miami River will go to trial after the sides failed to reach a settlement last month.

The city and Sidney-based Eagle Bridge Co. went into mediation on June 18 in an effort to settle the case out of court. But they failed to come to a consensus, so a jury trial is scheduled for Jan. 10, according to a Montgomery County Common Pleas Court document.

It’s not clear why talks broke down, and David W. Orlandini, an attorney for the Eagle Bridge Co., declined to comment Wednesday, saying the process is ongoing. City officials also declined to comment.

ExploreDayton sues bridge builder over massive 2019 water outage

The city filed the lawsuit after the February 2019 water main break in the middle of the Great Miami River near the Keowee Street Bridge. A countywide boil advisory affected 400,000 people for more than 40 hours. Schools and businesses closed.

The incident occurred while Eagle Bridge — hired by Montgomery County — was repairing the bridge. Dayton officials alleged that the company improperly designed and built a causeway, and failed to properly armor the river banks.

The errors, the city alleges, led to erosion and caused the 36-inch water main to rupture, spilling more than 150 million gallons of treated drinking water into the river.

City officials are seeking more than $2 million in damages from Eagle Bridge, saying the incident caused injury to Dayton’s reputation, which could impede the city from gaining future water customers.

ExploreCompany sued over massive water outage wants trial moved out of Montgomery County

Eagle Bridge has said it’s not responsible for the water main break. In court filings, the company said the temporary causeway was approved by Montgomery County, the Miami Conservancy District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which permitted the project.

In August, Eagle Bridge filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. When a judge denied the request, they asked for a change of venue, saying they won’t get a fair trial in the county. That motion was denied as well.