By Martin Couch
BENTON — Former Bryant alderman Ed Collins and his wife Quinn were awarded $70,000 in a jury trial in Saline County Circuit Court that took less than 10 minutes of deliberation.
Collins filed a complaint against the City of Bryant[more] and Richard Penn, the city's engineer seeking declaratory relief for failure of the city to comply with the terms and conditions of an easement agreement for the location of a storm drain.
"The city denied and continues to deny that it entered into any such contract," Bryant City Attorney Nga Mahfouz said. "I cannot speculate why the 12 jurors chose to find in the plaintiffs’ favor."
The complaint filed by Collins on March 27, 2009 to the Saline County Circuit Clerk states that heavy rains in 2008 caused flooding in the Forest Cove subdivision and the city undertook "operation flood relief", which included the widening of flood drains and culverts to improve the flow and drainage of flood waters.
The city dredged and excavated a ditch on a strip of land owned by Collins at 1716 Augusta Cove. The actual excavation was done in late July and early August of 2009 and left a ditch on the Collins' property eight feet wide, four-feet deep and 150 feet long.
The ditch was in preparation for the construction of a concrete or metal drain to be installed as a part of the drainage improvement plan for the flooded area. The city allegedly submitted to Collins a document entitled "Storm Drainage Easement".
In the easement document, it stated that the grantee (the City) shall restore the disturbed property to grantor (Collins) to a neat and presentable condition.
Since the excavation, Collins says in his complaint that the "City has failed and refused to proceed further in constructing or placing a permanent concrete or steel storm drain." And claimed that "more than a reasonable amount of time" had passed for the City to fix the problem.
Collins says the ditch eroded his property, stands with water breeding mosquitoes, a high voltage electrical cable is exposed in the ditch and a natural gas line is exposed and hanging across the ditch. There was also the concern of small children falling into the ditch.
News of Collins’ award was announced on Tuesday.