Last updated: March 09. 2013 12:20AM - 4002 Views
By - elewis@timesleader.com - (570) 991-6116

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WILKES-BARRE - A housing developer believes two companies should be equally or more liable if they are found responsible for the death of a woman who died from toxic gases during the September 2011 record flood.

Susquehanna River Shores LLC, owner of the Susquehanna River Shores Development in West Pittston, was named in a lawsuit filed last year by Mary Howells, whose sister Carol Ann Mikols, 62, died in her home located in the development along the Susquehanna River on Sept. 9, 2011.

Mikols, of Exeter, was house-sitting for her sister who was out of town when the river reached a record crest of 42.66 feet. She was found dead in the basement. An autopsy showed Mikols died from a gas contributing to low levels of oxygen.

The state Department of Environmental Protection performed testing on the home and discovered high levels of methane and carbon dioxide.

Howells’ lawsuit alleges Susquehanna River Shores was negligent in constructing the home over land that was used as a municipal landfill in the 1950s and 1960s. The development consisting of several houses was built within the last seven years.

In response to the lawsuit, Susquehanna River Shores last week filed court papers naming RT Environmental Services Inc., based in King of Prussia, and Borton-Lawson Engineering and Architecture, based in Wilkes-Barre, as additional defendants.

Susquehanna River Shores claims RT Environmental Services prepared a remedial investigative report and cleanup plans and Borton-Lawson provided environmental site assessment, a water management plan and geotechnical reviews to develop the land, the response says.

Susquehanna River Shores relied upon the expertise of RT Environmental Services and Borton-Lawson when constructing houses in the development.

“If it is found that the residence constructed and developed by Susquehanna River Shores LLC was negligently developed … which resulted in (Mikols’) death, then RT Environmental Services Inc and/or Borton-Lawson Engineering is/are solely liable to (Howells) over Susquehanna River Shores,” according to the response filed by attorney Mark T. Perry.

Susquehanna River Shores has asked that the lawsuit filed by Howells be dismissed.

Howells is seeking in excess of $300,000 in damages.

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