Ridgefield landowner changes course, rejects offer
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
A Ridgefield landowner locked in a two-year-old property damage dispute with the state has rejected a $30,000 settlement offer less than a month after saying she’d accept it.
Caroll Stuart-Luna had told the Washington State Department of Transportation last month that she’d accept — reluctantly — the payment after construction crews destroyed a well on her South Timm Road property in 2009. But last week, Stuart-Luna changed her mind after reading the form she was asked to sign.
The property damage occurred shortly after crews began work on an expansion of the Interstate 5 interchange at state Highway 501 in Ridgefield. An engineer’s survey incorrectly showed the well entirely on public right of way when workers removed it. In fact, the well was also on Stuart-Luna’s 1.29-acre property. The state later admitted the mistake, and offered the $30,000 payment as a “high-end” estimate to pay for the well.
Stuart-Luna argued the damage was more extensive than that. She declined to sign the settlement form in part because it grants “complete release of all unknown and unanticipated damages” resulting from the incident. It also purports to cover legal costs, but Stuart-Luna has said her legal costs alone were higher than the entire settlement amount.
The state now considers the case closed. Stuart-Luna said she plans to pursue the matter further in court.