Ferriday resident sues town over water

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 25, 1999

FERRIDAY, La. – A resident and restaurant owner has sued Ferriday and its engineering firm, saying the town’s recent water problems caused its water customers undue stress and inconvenience.

In the suit, filed just before noon Monday in Seventh Judicial District Court, Gloria Martello said negligence of the town and Baton Rouge firm Owen and White caused Ferriday to be placed under a boil water notice Aug. 20. The notice has still not been lifted.

It asks the court to certify the complaint as a class-action suit, since the boil water notice effected more than 4,000 residents and dozens of businesses like Martello’s restaurant, Brocato’s. It also seeks a trial by jury but does not ask for a specific amount of damages.

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&uot;Mrs. Martello suffered business losses … and (water problems) caused everyone aggravation and inconvenience,&uot;&160;said Martello’s attorney, Chuck Norris of Vidalia. &uot;I&160;have no idea of the amount of damages, but it affected a lot of people.&uot;

Martello would not comment Monday but said she would give a statement at her attorney’s office Wednesday morning.

Neither Ferriday Mayor Odeal Montgomery nor Roy Waggenspack of Owen and White would comment Monday afternoon, saying they had not yet seen the lawsuit. &uot;This is the first I’ve heard about it,&uot;&160;Montgomery said.

In previous articles, Martello said the boil notice had forced her to haul hundreds of gallons of water to her restaurant. Her $3,000 ice machine cannot be used, and she cannot get enough ice to open her salad bar. At one time, she used plastic utensils and foam plates to avoid having to boil enough water to wash dishes.

In the complaint, Martello said the town failed to properly maintain, repair and operate the plant and did not budget sufficient funds to do so. The suit also claims that the town did not properly train plant operators.

She added that the failure of the town to supply her safe water has caused her mental and emotional distress, economic loss, loss of use of the use of her property, fear of disease and illness and inconvenience.

In 1988, Owen and White designed the town’s water plant, which gets its water from the murky Old River and has been the site of repeated mechanical and operations problems.

The suit alleges that Ferriday’s water customers have suffered &uot;as a result of (Owen and White) breaching its contract to design a functional water plant.&uot;