© 2023 KGOU
News and Music for Oklahoma
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Hugo Files Lawsuit Alleging Fraud, Negligence By Water Treatment Company

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

The city of Hugo filed a lawsuit last week alleging former drinking water contractor Severn Trent Environmental Services committed fraud, acted negligently, breached its contract, and created a public nuisance.

The Journal Record’s Sarah Terry-Cobo reports the city is seeking more than $225,000 in actual and punitive damages, plus attorneys' fees:

The company didn’t properly maintain the water treatment plant or request money for equipment upkeep. The lawsuit also alleges the company submitted inaccurate monthly reports to the state environmental regulator. Severn Trent Environmental Services’ actions were grossly negligent, heinous, reckless, willful and wanton, according to the petition. The company’s actions are a public nuisance because it endangered Hugo residents’ health, safety and comfort, the petition stated. The company’s failure damaged the city and the Hugo Municipal Authority’s reputation with its customers and with the public, according to the document.

Tulsa environmental lawyer Jason Aamodt told Terry-Cobo fraud allegations are usually difficult to prove, which means Hugo could have substantial evidence Severn Trent acted recklessly and willfully:

Aamodt said Oklahoma law considers intentional actions malicious, which allows a jury to triple punitive damages, Aamodt said. But jurors could also recommend much higher damages than three times the plaintiff’s request, he said. “If there is malice and the underlying activity is capable of harming human health, there is no cap on damages,” Aamodt said.

Neither the UK-based company nor Hugo's attorney Stephen Jantzen commented on the allegations.

KGOU relies on voluntary contributions from readers and listeners to further its mission of public service to Oklahoma and beyond. To contribute to our efforts, make your donation online, or contact our Membership department.

Brian Hardzinski is from Flower Mound, Texas and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He began his career at KGOU as a student intern, joining KGOU full time in 2009 as Operations and Public Service Announcement Director. He began regularly hosting Morning Edition in 2014, and became the station's first Digital News Editor in 2015-16. Brian’s work at KGOU has been honored by Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI), the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters, the Oklahoma Associated Press Broadcasters, and local and regional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists. Brian enjoys competing in triathlons, distance running, playing tennis, and entertaining his rambunctious Boston Terrier, Bucky.
More News
Support nonprofit, public service journalism you trust. Give now.