STANFORD — A Hustonville woman and her grandson have filed a lawsuit against the city of Hustonville alleging that failure to maintain proper water pressure in city water lines contributed the destruction of their business in a fire last year.
Mary Kirkpatrick, who owned the building at 110 Lyons Court, and Billy Kirkpatrick, who operated Billy’s Body Shop there, filed the complaint last week in Lincoln Circuit Court. The city, its water and fire departments, and unnamed employees are named as defendants.
The building burned down on the morning of Sept. 17, 2011, after about 40 firefighters from four different departments failed to extinguish the blaze after fighting it for two hours, according to a story in The Advocate-Messenger.
According to the lawsuit, filed by Danville attorney Ephraim Helton, the city departments and employees failed or refused to maintain or fix the water lines and hydrants, even though it was known that problems existed. Failing to address such issues caused there to be “insufficient flow of water for fire suppression,” the lawsuit contends.
“They knew they had inadequate water in their lines and totally ignored it,” Helton said Wednesday.
The lack of water pressure led to the body shop being totally destroyed by fire, the complaint alleges. Mary Kirkpatrick lost her building and rental income, while Billy Kirkpatrick lost his tools, equipment and vehicles in the building, along with his ability to operate his business.
The complaint doesn’t ask for a specific amount of damages, but Helton said the losses are “well in excess of $150,000.”
Attorneys for the city have not yet responded to the allegations contained in the lawsuit.
Notice of the lawsuit was to be served on Hustonville Mayor Marc Spivey and Fire Chief Corey Kitchen, neither of whom was in their current position when the fire occurred.
Spivey was on City Council last September, becoming mayor after Cecil Maddox resigned the post earlier this year. Stanley Shepperson was fire chief but was either fired by Maddox or quit the post in November.
City officials are often given immunity against lawsuits if they are acting within their official capacity. No city officials are named individually in the lawsuit. Helton explained that the city, the departments and unnamed employees reponsible for the alleged negligence are not protected from lawsuits because they failed to act to correct problems they knew existed.