Another landslide victim files claim against Schenectady

The victim claims the city did not act in a timely manner to secure the hill
The mudslide's intrusion into 223 Nott Terrace is apparent from the top of the Barney Street hill on Feb. 15.
The mudslide's intrusion into 223 Nott Terrace is apparent from the top of the Barney Street hill on Feb. 15.

SCHENECTADY — The man who was trapped in his home by debris from an early morning landslide in late January has filed a notice of claim against the city.

Iquann Cornish, in the notice, said he suffered multiple injuries in the landslide, which occurred due to the city’s negligence in not taking proactive measures to secure the hill that broke loose, filling a portion of his residence.

The debris that hit his 223 Nott Terrace apartment essentially encased Cornish in mud, leaving him trapped in his bedroom for more than an hour before emergency crews were able to rescue him, according to the claim.

He was taken by medical helicopter to Albany Medical Center. He was released from the hospital a few days later.

City Corporation Counsel Carl Falotico said he could not comment on the claim because he had not had a chance to review it.

A notice of claim preserves a person’s ability to file a lawsuit against a government entity.

The claim states that Cornish suffered several injuries, including broken ribs, nerve damage to his left leg and contusions and abrasions all over his body. He also is suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome, insomnia, night terrors and nightmares and anxiety and depression, according to the claim.

“It’s a horrible situation he was in,” said Kristie Hanson, Cornish’s attorney. “He was up to his neck in mud. They had to come evacuate him and airlift him. I can’t imagine what that would feel like.”

Hanson said many of Cornihs’s injuries still have not been “resolved,” adding he will need more treatment. She also said it will take some time to see how bad Cornish’s PTSD really is.

“It’s a little bit harder to qualify,” Hanson said. “This is fresh.”

The landslide happened at around 1:15 a.m. on Jan. 28. Cornish was one of three people taken to the hospital after the incident.

One of the others was Reco Ross, Cornish’s uncle, who has also filed a claim against the city. His claim, filed in late February, said he suffered injuries and damage to his property.

He claimed the city exercised “negligence, malfeasance and nonfeasance” by not adequately addressing a water line leak that was discovered at the top of the hill.

City officials previously said the basement of 11 Barney St., which sits above Nott terrace, was filled with water prior to the landslide. They said the water line servicing the home, which was attached to a water main on Barney Street, was shut off the Friday before the slide.

Some residents, though, said they saw water coming down from the hill several days before the slide. That water caused ice to build up between buildings at 213 and 223 Nott Terrace.

The city has not said what caused the landslide, though it hired GPI Engineering and Construction to conduct soil boring tests on the hill.

The landslide forced the city to demolish several buildings on Barney Street and a garage on Daggett Terrace, after those structures were deemed unstable.

Hanson said she has submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain the results of the soil tests but has not heard back.

The Daily Gazette has also submitted a request for those documents. Falotico said on Thursday that he was unsure of the status of the request.

The hill was stabilized in late February by Altamont-based Carver Companies. The city hired them for $94,500 to do the work.

Approximately 27 residents were evacuated following the slide, but Mayor Gary McCarthy previously said in March they were all able to move back in, except for residents at 223 Nott Terrace.

Ross and Cornish now live in different places.

Hanson said there were enough studies that showed there had been prior landslides along the ridge where the January slide occurred. Prior slides occurred along Broadway in 2004 and in 1996, the latter slide proving fatal, as one person was killed.

“This was the third event along that ridge,” Hanson said.

One of those studies was the Schenectady County Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan, which published a map in 2007 that showed the ridge was susceptible to failure.

Categories: -News-, Schenectady County

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