It follows a public meeting in the city over the weekend at which 20 more residents indicated their plan to sue before the statute of limitations passes on November 19.
The meeting was organised on the Mardyke, one of the worst hit areas in the November 2009 flood, to lay out the various options available in the wake of a landmark court ruling against the ESB last month. The High Court ruled in early October that the ESB was 60% liable for damage caused to University College Cork’s (UCC) campus from the massive flood which engulfed the city in 2009.
In the case brought by UCC, Mr Justice Max Barrett found the ESB, as operator of two upriver dams on the River Lee, was 60% liable, with UCC liable for 40% of the damage after a finding of contributory negligence on its part. The ESB has since announced that it intends to appeal.
The company said that it is firmly of the view that following the heavy rains in November 2009, the actions of its staff in the management of the Lee dams protected Cork from the worst of the flooding. Confirming the appeal, ESB chief executive Pat O’Doherty said while they acknowledge that the legal case brought by UCC involved many complex technical and legal issues, they were disappointed with the judgement.
“ESB fully defended this case because we believed and continue to believe that our operation of the dams complies with best international practice and with our statutory duties,” he said. “Over their history, the Lee dams have greatly reduced the impact of severe floods on Cork city and it was established in court and accepted by all that this was also the case during the 2009 flooding.
“The ESB staff on the night worked tirelessly to protect Cork from the worst impact of the flooding.
“Regrettably, despite the best efforts of our staff, the unprecedented volume of rainfall in the Lee catchment resulted in flooding downstream.”
An estimated 80 individuals affected by the flood were already in the process of taking legal action against the company following the flooding. But the public meeting of residents in the Cork County Cricket Club over the weekend heard that another 20 residents have now decided to take similar action, bringing to over 100 the number of those suing.
“Many of these victims had been unsure how to proceed and had been afraid of the costs they might incur,” meeting organiser Barry Keane said.
“Residents are now determined to pursue this issue.
“Residents who have already taken a claim should make sure their solicitor has lodged the claim in the High Court and that they have a case number. Otherwise they are suing nobody.
“Residents who have already secured insufficient insurance payouts for damage caused by the flood should lodge claims to cover the gap between this and the total loss.
“Residents and businesses should lodge their own claim rather that allowing their insurance company to sue.”
Mr Keane said it costs little or nothing to lodge a ‘particulars of loss’ which will effectively stop the clock on the looming statute of limitations.