Residents Downriver of Collapsed Spencer Dam Will Have Damage Claims Capped

by Willem Roper, NET News

May 8, 2019, 12:49 p.m.

Omaha lawyer David Domina told residents of Niobrara this week Nebraska law will greatly cap the amount of damages that can be claimed due to historic flooding and the Spencer Dam collapse.

Business and homeowners downriver of the Spencer Dam will have their total claims capped at $5 million for liability damages from the dam owned by the Nebraska Public Power District. Niobrara and Knox County residents have already listed $17 million in claims, citing failures by the state and U.S. Army Corp of Engineers in preventing the dam collapse.

Domina said he believes the Legislature failed to take into account the historic nature of this flooding. He said the statute involving a cap to damages is necessary but should be revisited.

“There would be some reason to cap that just to avoid driving a political subdivision into bankruptcy," Domina said. "Where that cap should be should be debated and revisited by the Legislature, and it hasn’t been for quite a while.”

Claims must be made within a year of damage, and Domina said the process can become very complicated for business and homeowners.