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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2005

    Default Who is Responsible for a Retaining Wall Failure

    The following is a list of things that will assist in explaining the reason for my asking for your help. This is no joke, and as you will soon learn, there are several families affected, I am asking for help on behalf of all of us.

    *My family and I live on the top of a hillside, at 915 S. Clymar Avenue in the city of Compton, state of California.

    *We had purchased our home, less than a year from the date of the incident.

    *On January 10, 2005, after very heavy rains, our retaining wall gave way (along with some of our backyard) and damaged the house on the bottom of the hillside.

    *The retaining wall on 911 S. Clymar Avenue also moved as a result of the movement, detaching almost completely, causing an obvious threat to the residents down the hill.

    *The homes on the bottom of the hillside are considered to be in the City of Carson.

    *Neither Cities (Compton nor Carson), nor any of the insurance companies involved can make a determination as to the actual cause of the movement other than ‚€œdue to the heavy rains‚€Ě.

    *Nobody has specified if the movement was as a result of my retaining wall failing or of faulty installation, or if there was something missing in my wall that may have caused this, nor has anyone specified if the hillside soil had not been properly maintained (graded), thus causing the unstable hillside to give way, causing my wall to also fail.

    *One of the residents on the bottom of the hillside recalls that the same thing had happened 15 years ago, where at that time, the retaining wall at 911 S. Clymar Avenue, was the one that failed and fell down the hill.

    *Immediately following the 2005 incident the City of Compton evacuated the three home residents (at the top of the hillside) affected, and the City of Carson evacuated the three home residents (on the bottom of the hillside) affected.

    *The City of Compton hired Twining Laboratories to do a geotechnical report to determine the stability of the soil in order to let the residents back to their homes.

    *The Twining Laboratories report references that there are no records of any retaining wall permits being issued to any of the three Compton homes.

    *The City of Compton advised the Compton residents that the City could not assist financially nor get involved, considering it a ‚€œcivil matter‚€Ě.

    *The City of Compton advised that we should all just get attorneys and try to resolve this amongst ourselves.

    *The City of Carson advised that the hillside actually belongs to the Carson homeowners.

    *The retaining wall is shared between the City of Compton homes and City of Carson homes.

    *My homeowners insurance is denying my claim, stating that although the ‚€œstructure‚€Ě is covered under my policy, they believe that my wall may have been built improperly (hence the failure), and that they did not insure faulty walls.

    *FEMA has been involved on a very limited basis, offering a very minimal amount to assist for the most part for the time the families were out of their homes, and although I‚€™ve appealed several times, they are not willing to help us any more.

    *We have received estimates for designs of the retaining wall for about $12,000.00 (for all three Compton homes).

    *We have received estimates for actual working on the tear down and re-building of our walls for about $90,000.00 (for each of the Compton homes).

    *The City of Compton threatened that if they assist in any way, shape or form, they will have to place a lien on our properties.

    *We were recently advised of a 6 month statute when filing a claim against the City.

    This is an attempt to receive any type of assistance, whether it be financial, legal or even information. The residents are not sure if there are any grounds to file a claim against the City of Carson (for not ensuring that the Carson residents properly maintain the hillside) or the City of Compton for turning a ‚€œblind eye‚€Ě to the similar incident of 15 years ago and not ensuring properly installed retaining walls)? Is this too far fetched or a possibility? Do I have a case against the previous homeowner for not disclosing the "faulty wall"? What is the statute to file a claim of this nature against both cities (in California)?

    Please advise what type of an attorney should be consulted, real estate attorney?

    Anything that you can think of will be truly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005

    Default Retaining Wall Collapse

    I would suggest contacting a real estate attorney (or a firm which handles a spectrum of real estate matters) to review the validity of any claims against the prior homeowner, designer or builder of the wall, or local government(s). I would also suggest consulting with a lawyer who handles insurance coverage disputes about your insurance company's denial of the claim, as you may be able to establish that the collapse of the wall should be covered by your policy.

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