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Bellevue landslide leads family to seek $5 million in damages from city

The Surdi family home was demolished after a landslide on Jan. 17 knocked the structure off of its foundation.

BELLEVUE, Wash. — Editor's note: The above video about the Bellevue landslide originally ran on Feb. 19.

A Bellevue family is seeking over $5 million in damages in a pre-filed tort claim against the city after their home was demolished following a mudslide caused by a water pipe bursting.

John and Barbara Surdi's home on 139th Place in Bellevue came off its foundation after a city water pipe burst and caused a mudslide on Jan. 17. The upcoming filing from attorney David Bricklin says the city was negligent in not addressing decades-old Asbestos Concrete (AC) pipes and putting in measures that could have prevented the rupture and subsequent collapse of the family's home.

Among the claims included were that the city's AC distribution pipes were prone to "cataclysmic failure" and Bellevue did not set aside sufficient funds to accelerate the process of replacing them.

The pre-filing also claims that the city should have warned families in downhill properties like the Surdis that these pipes being left in the ground were susceptible to such a catastrophic failure. The claim also states Bellevue could have installed monitoring devices and valves that would stop flow to the pipe upon rupture.

In addition to the estimated $3.1 million value of the home, the Surdis' claim estimates between $325,000-$550,000 in lost personal belongings and cash. John Surdi's carpet cleaning business was based out of the home and estimates lost business property between $300,000-$600,000. The couple also included lodging and remediation expenses while they seek a new home that are estimated "at least $300,000."

Since January 17th, I am a shell of the person I used to be. I feel so empty that it makes me feel physically sick inside," Barbara Surdi wrote in a statement included in the pre-filing.

Two of the Surdi children, Caitlin Antoncich and Connor Surdi, also pre-filed claims seeking damages for personal property lost in the mudslide and subsequent collapse of the home.

The city of Bellevue said previously that Bellevue utilities confirmed an eight-inch water main was the source of the rushing water in the area. The city had not determined what led to the break in the pipe.

The home was demolished in February after the city filed a complaint against the family for not allowing the structure, which was standing at an angle above a public road, to be removed. Power was cut off to a number of homes near the Surdis' property while the structure stood. The city and the family eventually reached an agreement that would allow the Surdis to recover as much of their personal property as could be safely salvaged and begin the demolition process.

In a statement, the City of Bellevue said it's still investigating the incident. 

"The action to file tort claims is a standard process to follow if someone believes they have a claim against the city. The Surdis, the City and Forest Ridge school continue to investigate the cause of the slide. We understand the slide and its aftermath has been a devasting event for the Surdi family and their neighbors. The City is working with the community to recover from it,” a spokesperson said.

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