Federal lawsuit filed against South Williamson couple
Debbie Rolen Civitas News Service
A South Williamson couple is being sued by the United States of America. The lawsuit was filed this week in the United States District Court, Eastern District of Kentucky, Southern Division, Pikeville.
Betty Karnes and husband Shibby Karnes are now Defendants in a civil suit for injunctive relief against them. The United States of America is listed as Plaintiff.
The Karnes own more than one property at South Williamson, but only one is the subject of the lawsuit and the subject of controversary as to whether or not it interferes with land over which the Plaintiff owns floodwall/levee and pipeline easement rights.
The South Williamson Floodwall is located in Pike County, Kentucky, on the Tug Fork of the Big Sandy River; approximately 40 miles from its beginnings near the Virginia-West Virginia state line. The South Williamson Floodwall is situated on the Kentucky - West Virginia state line.
The Plaintiff acquired the real estate interests in the subject property and constructed the flood control project. However, according to the agreement between the U.S. Government and the local sponsor, Pike County, Ky., all project lands acquired by the U.S. Govennment for the project will be turned over to Pike County, which will assume all maintenance and operation responsibilities. As of this date, the real estate has not been turned over to Pike County.
The easement rights over the land of the Defendants were acquired as part of the comprehensive plan to provide flood control measures on the Levisa and Tug Forks of the Big Sandy River and on the Cumberland River.
The Defendants are accused of locating a structure on their land in violation of the estate language and tapping into the interceptor sewer line without authorization or permission of the Plaintiff.
The lawsuit claims the acts of the Defendants create a hazardous situation in which the lives and property of third parties are placed in jeopardy and places upon the Plaintiff the risk of damage claims by third parties for losses incurred as a result of Plaintiff’s lawful use of its easement rights.
The Plaintiff is requesting the court to enjoin the Defendants to remove all structures from their land over which the Plaintiff owns floodwall/levee and pipeline easement rights and remove all other obstructions; that the court permanently enjoin the Defendants from locating structures or any other obstructions to the Plaintiff’s floodwall/levee and pipeline easement rights; and, that the court award compensatory damages to the Plaintiff in an amount sufficient to repair the sewer pipeline in order to restore the pipeline to its condition prior to the Defendants’ unauthorized tapping into it and any other relief the cour may deem just and proper.
Mr. Karnes declined comment, except to say he believes he and his wife will prevail at trial.
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