City gets $200K in storm-damage settlement

CITY HALL — Glendale will receive $200,000 to help recover about half the cost of repairing a hillside that was severely damaged during the 2005 winter storms.

The settlement approved by the City Council this week resolves a cross complaint Glendale filed against Van Nuys-based firm GeoSoils Consultants Inc. after the city was sued by a local homeowners association in the wake of the 2005 storms that wreaked havoc on hillside homes.

Rains that drenched the Los Angeles area the first few weeks of January 2005 caused mudslides and power outages in Glendale and inflicted about $27 million in property damage.

The Reserve Glendale Community Assn. contended that mud flowing from a city-owned fire access road during the storms resulted in damage to land owned by the association, destroying drainage devices and irrigation systems, further destabilizing the slope, according to the original complaint filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

In an October 2007 partial settlement, Glendale agreed to repair the hillsides, which cost roughly $400,000, said Christina Sansone, general counsel for the Public Works Department.

In turn, the city contended that the consulting firm that had done original engineering work in the hillsides should also be held partially liable, Sansone said.

"We are pleased to have reached a settlement in this case," she said.

Attorney Frank Sabaitis, who was hired by the city to serve as outside counsel in a series of 2005 storm-damage-related lawsuits, said the settlement tied up a final loose end.

"This is basically the last bit that is cleaned up now," he said. "So we can close the book on this one."

The city is still involved in litigation against insurance firm AIG in an attempt to recover some or all of the millions the city was ordered to pay to Glendale homeowners.

City officials have argued AIG failed to adequately investigate claims filed by the homeowners after the mudslide, forcing nine settlements and payouts of more than $12 million.