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Thurmont sewer lawsuit terms remain ‘confidential'

Jeremy Hauck

(1/14) It's unclear how much money — if any — seven Thurmont families will end up getting after they settled their sewer lawsuit with the town recently.

The families were awarded $2.55 million in damages by a Frederick County jury in 2007, but Thurmont Mayor Martin A. Burns said last week that Thurmont will make no financial contribution to the settlement.

The settlement has yet to be finalized and the terms are not public.

"We have reached an agreement in principle," Leslie A. Powell, a Frederick attorney who represents Thurmont, said this week. "We're waiting for the execute agreements from the plaintiffs."

Thurmont was appealing a $2.55 million judgment in 2007 that found the town liable for sewer backups into seven families' homes in 2003. The town also faced a new, $6.5 million lawsuit, filed after the initial case's trial, based on similar claims by two of the same families, who were joined by a third family.

A December mediation session appears to have ended all that. But neither side is revealing how the parties talked the cases away.

"The terms of the contract are confidential," Powell said. "We are pleased that [neither] the town nor the citizens of the town will be making any financial contribution towards the settlement."

In an e-mail response to a phone message from The Gazette seeking comment, Alan S. Albin, a Morristown, N.J. attorney representing the plaintiffs in the second case, declined to comment.

Messages for two other attorneys representing the plaintiffs in both cases were not returned.

Thurmont officials' days in court defending the town against claims that the town was a negligent sewer system operator are over, though, according to Powell.

"We're very happy to move forward and focus on the things the town wants to focus on, which includes providing services to its residents," she said.

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