On February 7, 2017, Delaware Township (Hunterdon County), jointly with Hunterdon County, agreed to pay $55,000 and resurface the driveway apron of a homeowner who claimed that the Township and County improperly designed and constructed a storm water drainage system causing rain water to cascade onto and damage her property.

In her suit, Beverly Adamson, who owns a home on Locktown-Sergeantsville Road, claimed that the Township’s and County’s improperly installed culvert system and drainage paths, together with the Township allowing construction of numerous homes uphill from Adamson’s property, had caused stormwater to run across her property causing “severe damage.” Adamson claimed that the water flow caused ponds to form on her property which are “quite large” and last for several days.  She said that the ponds killed her lawn and provided a nesting area for mosquitoes.

Also named in the suit are the prior owners who sold the residence to Adamson in 2010.  Adamson’s suit claimed that the prior owners “purposely misled [her] by not disclosing the reoccurring flooding on the property prior to her purchase.”  The lawsuit was dismissed against the prior owners in May 2015.  It is unknown whether or not the prior owners paid a settlement to Adamson in exchange for the dismissal.

The case is captioned Adamson v. Township of Delaware, et al, Hunterdon County Superior Court Docket No. HNT-L-228-13 and Adamson’s attorney was Anthony E. Koester of Flemington.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of Adamson’s allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement  states that the $55,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Delaware Township, Hunterdon County or any of their officials. All that is known for sure is that Township, County or their insurers, for whatever reason, decided that they would rather pay Adamson $55,000 and fix her driveway apron than take the matter to trial. Perhaps the defendants’ decision to settle was done to save further legal expense and the costs of trying what were in fact exaggerated or meritless claims. Or, perhaps the claims were true and the defendants wanted to avoid being embarrassed at trial. This is the problem when cases settle before trial–it is impossible to know the truth of what really happened.

Chairman of the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Open Government Advocacy Project. Please send all comments to [email protected]