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Flooded and fed up: St-Leonard homeowners file class-action suit over heavy rain damages

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A group of homeowners in St-Leonard has filed a class-action lawsuit against their borough and the City of Montreal, claiming municipal authorities are to blame for repeated floodings during heavy rain. 

When streets in the Montreal borough flooded after rainfall in July 2019, residents on de Belmont Street were once again complaining about storm sewers backing up and flooding their basements. It's been a recurring problem going back decades.

Homeowners say these floods are happening more and more often and are pointing their fingers at the city for not upgrading their drainage system as the borough continues to authorize new developments.

"A storm that is a little bit over and above — bang — you have water in your basement, water in your garage. You can't live like that," said plaintiff Frankie La Giorgea.

The alleged victims are now taking St-Leonard and Montreal to court, through a class-action lawsuit seeking unspecified damages.

"It's happening more often is the issue, it's the recurrence of the issue," said Charles O'Brien, a lawyer for the plaintiffs.

"Floods are coming every two or three years and I'm worried that if we don't deal with the infrastructure, it's only gonna get worse."

There have been meetings with the borough council, but it claims work was done in the past to ease the pressure on its sewers in case of heavy rain. The homeowners say they're told it's their problem and not the city's.

"They've asked us to put in more clapets, to fill in our garages so the water doesn't seep in," said Pat Monaco, another homeowner.

"We're told the problem is theirs. They're told to have to install backflip preventers, or that they have to condemn their driveways, they should have better insurance or that it's global warming," their lawyer said. "It's never the city taking its responsibility for the conditions of their infrastructure."

Lawyers for the city argued that the current laws for cities and towns protects them from such legal actions. They declined our request for an interview Wednesday.

The judge heard the arguments from both sides at the courthouse. He now has to rule whether a case has been made to authorize a class-action suit.

A decision is expected in the coming months. 

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