Georgetown business owners file lawsuit after sinkholes

GEORGETOWN, S.C. (WCIV) - A lawsuit has been filed in connection to sinkholes that formed in Georgetown more than a year ago.{} It may not be the last.

Tony and Debbie Jordan filed the lawsuit Tuesday. They owned Parrish Place, a business plaza on North Fraser Street. The building was destroyed when a sinkhole formed near the plaza.

They also own the High Market Business Center, which also was damaged.

The lawsuit names South Carolina Department of Transportation, Davis and Floyd Engineering, S&ME Incorporated and Republic Contracting as defendants in the suit.

In November 2011, Tony Jordan said he began to notice damage to his property before the collapse. He directed blame to the nearby drainage project as the cause of the sinkholes.

"All of it's been happening during that dewatering project, that's why we're all concerned," he said.

The Jordans consulted an engineer that was involved.

"Before the dewatering process began, none of the engineers at Davis & Floyd, Inc. conducted or commission or recommended that anyone conduct or commission any hydro-geological testing or studies of the area in an around where intended to conduct dewatering work," the filing states.

The lawsuit also says, "the sheeting and king piling were inadequate to isolate the underground aquifer, thus allowing for water to be drawn from outside the intended isolation area."

College of Charleston geology professor Scott Harris says it is likely sinkholes could have resulted from the de-watering project. At one point water was being removed from the ground at a rate of 60,000 gallons per hour.

"If you increase water flow underneath different parts of the ground you can actually remove ground that way by slowly making it migrate," he said.

The suit states the damages exceed $2 million.

Other affected businesses have said they plan to file lawsuits as well.