Lawsuit: Bank Was Already Notified About Crossings Mall Entrance Issues Before Flood

By Nethani Palmani | Mar 13, 2017 04:10 AM EDT

A lawsuit filed last week claims the bank responsible for funding the maintenance of Crossings Mall in Elkview was notified about repairs necessary to the center's sole entrance, about six months before the culvert bridge collapsed. The culvert collapsed on Jun. 23, 2016 due to heavy rainfall and flooding.

The lawsuit was filed against the U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo Commercial Mortgage Servicing, and Gold Coast Partners, in Kanawha County Circuit Court on Tuesday, according to Charleston Gazette-Mail. A judge was asked to grant class-action status for those who were trapped at the Crossings Mall overnight following the raging flood and for the people downstream from the plaza who experienced the flooding.

Charleston lawyer Stuart Calwell said, "There was a warning this would happen and it was a simple fix." His firm filed the lawsuit on behalf of two Elkview residents, George Leeson and Jacob Crum who lost their home from the collapse.

The lawsuit claimed that by the defendants by refusing to spend what was requested to repair the culvert, caused property damage to many people, shut down the center for months and deprived the community of an important resource. The negligence left many unemployed, and showed a serious lack of concern for the well-being of the community, WSAZ News reported.

The lawsuit also noted that Gold Coast Partners LLC, landlord and property manager of the mall, wrote to Wells Fargo who is in charge of the escrow account for maintenance and repairs at the shopping center on Jan. 16, 2016. The firm requested that $24,000 be issued to pay for the repair of the culvert bridge, which is the only entrance to the shopping center, and to repair the "dirt cliff" behind KMart.

Wells Fargo did not authorize the repairs, neither did any other company involved with the shopping plaza, the lawsuit stated. The shopping center's property is the only large retail center within a substantial radius around Elkview and apparently is a vital commercial center for residents in the area.

More Sections