Beachfront homeowners in the Culloden Shores area of Montauk, , have filed another suit for $25 million in damages, this one in federal court, on Thursday.
The town, New York State and Suffolk County are named in the suit once again, but the Army Corps of Engineers has been added this suit, which was filed in federal court in Manhattan.
The latest lawsuit alleges that "the Montauk Harbor Jetties have caused catastrophic erosion and damage to the public and private beaches, sand dunes and homes west of the jetties, and has left the plaintiffs’ homes vulnerable to destruction by future winter storms," according to a statement issued by Terry Bienstock, a lawyer who has owned property on Soundview Drive since 1999.
He and 10 other plaintiffs are asking the court to make the government entities restore and replenish the beaches west of the jetty to their original condition, as well as to maintain them to prevent further erosion.
"The jetties are owned by the Town of East Hampton and were constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers after persistent lobbying by the Town. The Corps of Engineers is primarily responsible for maintaining the jetties and mitigating any environmental damage caused by their presence," the statement said.
Culloden Shores is a neighborhood of about 400 homes with beach rights. More than 40 homes, as well as motels and cooperative apartments, are directly on the beach, and many of them have suffered storm damage as a result of about 300 feet of eroded beach and dunes.
“The destruction of our beaches is not the result of a natural disaster,” said Frank DeVito, one of the plaintiffs whose house on Captain Kidd's Path nearly washed away during the Christmas storm of 2010. The house was eroded away, before emergency permits were granted to allow him to shore up his house.
“It is the result of government inaction and indifference, and it is deeply disappointing and frustrating that the only recourse available to us after years of study, neglect and inaction by our government is to bring this lawsuit to seek redress in the courts," he said.
In January 2011, , but said they would file separate notices of claims against the the federal agency.
However, State Court Judge Arthur Pitts dismissed the suit, "because it did not include the Army Corps," according to Bienstock. Pitts had "ruled that the homeowners' complaint stated valid claims for both a public as well as a private nuisance as a result of the erosion caused by the jetties," he added.
The earlier suit was filed following the severe Christmas storm when DeVito's home almost fell into the ocean due to severe erosion.
Jonathan Sinnreich, an attorney based in Central Islip, is experienced in coastal management issues and filed the suit on behalf of the homeowners.
“This suit is based on thousands of documents that unequivocally demonstrate that the responsible government entities have been aware of this problem for many years and have acknowledged that the jetties are the cause of the problem, but have simply been unwilling to expend the money necessary to fix the problem," he said in a statement.
The plaintiffs also assert in the suit that the jetties have caused the loss of public environmental and recreational amenities, including the public beach immediately west of the jetties, and the destruction of the entire public foreshore from the jetties all the way west to Culloden Point.