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Science Technology and Environment

Hugo Resident Can't Sue Over Water Quality, Company Says

The Hugo water treatment plant in July 2015.
Sarah Terry-Cobo
The Journal Record
The Hugo water treatment plant in July.

The company that provides water services in Hugo says a customer doesn’t have standing to sue over water quality problems. Hugo resident Tara Lowrimore is suing Severn Trent Environmental Services for damages related to federal and state drinking water violations due to cloudiness and lack of chlorination.

More coverage of Hugo’s water supply from The Journal Record

Lowrimore is seeking class action status, but the company said in a filing Tuesday she doesn’t have standing, The Journal Record’s Sarah Terry-Cobo reports:

She must prove the contract between the water treatment services provider and Hugo officials was expressly intended for her benefit, according to the company’s response filed Jan. 19. Her attorney, Jon Williford, said that’s the case. [University of Tulsa water law professor Jason] Aamodt said Williford’s argument could hold water if he shows Severn Trent and the city entered into a contract to benefit residents by supplying water. “I think she’s got an argument there,” Aamodt said. “That will be up to the judge to decide whether she is the incidental or intended beneficiary.”

Lowrimore says Severn Trent didn’t properly disinfect the city’s water supply, or tell residents the water wasn’t safe to drink. She wants damages that cover the cost of bottled water she purchased, Terry-Cobo writes:

DEQ alleged in its violation notice the company didn’t keep proper records on water samples. Lowrimore’s lawsuit stemmed from The Journal Record’s coverage of DEQ’s violation notice against Severn Trent. DEQ also fined the company $3.17 million, the largest environmental fine in state history. In an email to The Journal Record, Severn Trent Services spokeswoman Tracey Rotan wrote that the company does not comment on pending legal matters.

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