Athens Property Owner Files Lawsuit Against The City

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A downtown property owner has filed a lawsuit against the city of Athens, claiming his property was damaged by a city repair project that involved excavating beside his building.

John Pantakis, owner of the building at 74 N. Court St., also names York Paving Co. of Athens and the Cincinnati engineering firm of Brandsetter & Carroll as defendants in the Athens County Common Pleas Court case. The building is located at the intersection of Court and Fern Streets and is the location of Atheneon Carry Out & Deli.

According to the lawsuit, in 2012 the surface of Fern Street collapsed as the apparent result of breaches in the drainage and sewer pipes below the roadway causing subsurface soil movement.

Brandsetter & Carroll was hired to do engineering and York Paving was hired as the prime contractor for the repair project, the lawsuit states.

Excavation of Fern Street in August 2012 exposed the basement walls and foundation of the Pantakis building, according to the lawsuit, which asserts that water got into the basement during heavy rainfalls.

"…No measures were taken to protect the plaintiff's foundation and basement wall against such occurrences " the lawsuit asserts. "Additionally, no measures were taken to protect the foundation and basement … against the loss of stability and support occasioned by the removal of soil from those locations."

Pantakis states in the lawsuit that in September and October of 2012 he began to notice cracks and bowing in the basement wall adjacent to the excavation and work on Fern Street.

According to the lawsuit, the hole on Fern Street was backfilled, in part, with a "cementious material," that the court case claims put greater pressure against the foundation and basement wall.

"This greater force applied from the outside of the foundation and wall has compromised the structural integrity of the building and created substantial deflection in the wall," the lawsuit asserts.

The court case alleges that the defendants were negligent and violated the Ohio Basic Building Code, and argues that the city is not entitled to governmental or sovereign immunity.

It's also claimed that the project amounted to unlawful trespass on Pantakis' property.

The case is seeking in excess of $25,000, the threshold amount for filing such a lawsuit in common pleas court.

The defendants have not yet filed responses.

Andy Stone, director of the city's Engineering & Public Works Department, said Friday he had not yet read the lawsuit and was not ready to comment. He said he will be meeting with the attorney who has been retained by the city's insurance provider.