Earthquake News

City of Bellevue sues owners of home that slid off foundations in landslide

Feb 1, 2022, 8:44 AM | Updated: 10:03 am
Bellevue landslide...
Debris from a home sits at the bottom of a hill after the home slid off its foundation in a recent landslide on Jan. 20, 2022 in Bellevue, Washington. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

The City of Bellevue is filing a lawsuit against the owners of a home that slid off its foundations in a mid-January landslide.

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Prior to its collapse, John and Barb Surdi lived in the three-story home for two decades. It’s believed that it was knocked off its foundations after a broken water main saturated the hillside below the structure.

The incident led to the evacuation of over 40 people and several pets from an estimated 17 homes in the area. Five homes have since been red-tagged, which condemns them as unsafe for the public or owners to enter under any circumstances.

The City of Bellevue says it sent a request to the Surdis to demolish the home, which was subsequently denied. The city’s lawsuit was filed shortly after that, calling the house “an imminent threat,” and warning that “natural events such as wind, rainfall or seismic activity” could lead to further damage to the surrounding area.

The lawsuit asks a judge to issue a temporary restraining order to keep the Surdis from “interfering with the city’s demolition of the residence.” The couple also hasn’t been allowed to reenter their house to retrieve personal items, with their attorney Dave Bricklin telling KIRO 7 TV that the city intends to “cart everything away to the landfill.”

“It’s really unfortunate the city has come in with this very heavy handed approach,” Bricklin said. “One of the things we’ve been looking at is the potential that the city is responsible for this. To end up having the city sue the Surdis was really adding insult to injury.”

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Bellevue spokesperson Brad Harwood responded to the lawsuit as well, noting that the city “doesn’t take this legal action likely.”

“We realize the Surdi family is dealing with a terrible situation,” he told KIRO 7 TV. “Unfortunately, the area is dangerous and we need to move more quickly.”

Moving forward, Bricklin expressed his hope that the Surdis and the city could come to some sort of agreement before a judge needs to step in. Short of that, he said that the couple would consider a lawsuit of their own against the city.

“We’re hopeful whoever is responsible – and as I say, the city is a prime suspect – steps up to the mark and doesn’t force a lawsuit,” he said. “But we need to complete our investigation, the city needs to complete theirs, and we’ll see if we reach common ground.”

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