Witter suit claims sewage coming from apartments

Landowner Phil Witter is seeking class-action status for a lawsuit filed in district court against the owners of Fairway View Apartments, claiming raw sewage from the complex is getting onto his property.

“The problem was discovered in late November or early December,” said John Dunlap III, the attorney for Witter and one of his companies, Cedar Lodge Plantation LLC.

An analysis of water samples taken Dec. 13 found higher than permitted contents of fecal coliform and other contaminants, according to the lawsuit filed Tuesday in 19th Judicial District Court.

“It was raw sewage,” Dunlap said.

Witter asked Fairway View to fix the problem, but the apartment complex didn’t take any action, Dunlap said. Witter also complained to the city-parish and the state Department of Environmental Quality; state law requires DEQ be notified of a problem at least 30 days before filing a lawsuit.

Jay Gulotta, a partner with Stone Pigman Walther Wittmann LLC, said Fairway View found out about the lawsuit in the last day or so.

The apartment complex’s owners are looking into the allegations, Gulotta said. “As far as we know … there is no information or any indication that any of the claims that Cedar Lodge makes about the discharge are of any substance at all.”

Dunlap said he is waiting on DEQ’s response.

However, the city-parish inspected its own line and found it isn’t the source of the sewage, Dunlap said.

Dunlap said the sewage is coming from Fairway View.

The lawsuit seeks damages on behalf of Witter, others whose property lies next to Fairway View, nearby residents, including those leasing apartments at Fairway View, and business owners and workers.

Dunlap said the amount of damages has not been calculated.