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Homeowner sues over canal breach, alleges negligence

A woman whose home was flooded after an irrigation canal ruptured in Northern Nevada filed a negligence lawsuit Thursday against the canal’s operator, local governments and home builders.

Judy Kroshus alleged that developers never told her of a December 1996 flood in the Fernley area, about 35 miles east of Reno, and that local government officials did not have an adequate emergency plan in place before she took out a loan and bought a home there in 2002.

Kroshus also alleged the canal operator, the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District, failed to stem the flow of water during a powerful Jan. 5 storm, a failure she said contributed to the canal breach.

The rupture flooded hundreds of homes.

“Inadequate maintenance of that canal is what resulted in the breach,” said Kroshus’ lawyer, Robert Hager, after filing the lawsuit in Washoe County District Court in Reno.

“The failure to turn off the valve, for three hours after the canal was breached … greatly increased the quantity of water that was spread throughout the homes.”

Ernest Schank, president of the irrigation district, said canal managers responded as quickly as possible.

“We responded within 20 minutes,” he said.

“You have to realize that if the canal is full, there’s going to be water that continues to come even after you shut it off. We did everything in our power to shut it off immediately.”

Kroshus’ lawsuit, which seeks class-action status and invites other homeowners to take part, also names as defendants the city of Fernley, Lyon County and developers CRCH Ltd. and other real estate developers. The lawsuit alleges they failed to notify new buyers of the potential risk.

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