SCRANTON – Litigation continues headlong towards trial in the case of an Old Forge townhome community which sued the owners of a neighboring residential development, claiming its stormwater system collected water and directed it onto their property.

Maple Leaf Village, Inc. first filed suit on March 21, 2017 in the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas, against Eileen Hatala of Old Forge, Leonard Hatala and Constance Hatala of Vero Beach, Fla., Robert Litwiniec of Fernandina Beach, Fla. Leonard Litwiniec of DeLeon Springs, Fla., Gayle Susan Litwiniec Sauers of West Chester and Shawnee Hills of Old Forge, Inc., also in Vero Beach, Fla.

“As part of its construction…of the Shawnee Hills Development, the defendants have collected, channeled, diverted and directed storm water and continued to collect, channel, divert and direct storm water from the entire 19.13 acre Shawnee Hill Development into a retention pond which defendants have constructed at the top of a hillside immediately adjacent to the property of plaintiff,” the lawsuit reads.

The suit adds this is made possible through the defendants’ installation of an outlet pipe to direct the water onto the plaintiff’s property.

“The aforementioned activities of defendants have dramatically altered the natural condition of their land so as to change the course of the water flowing thereon, concentrate the water at a particular point and, by artificial means, direct the water at a greatly increased volume at and onto the aforementioned property owned by plaintiff,” the lawsuit continues.

The plaintiff claims it has demanded the defendants to “stop collecting, channeling, diverting and directing storm water from the Shawnee Hills Development onto its land, but defendants have failed and refused to comply” on numerous occasions, and this water flow onto its property has necessitated the installation of a storm water abatement system which cost $150,000.

The plaintiff believes the defendants are liable for trespass, private nuisance and negligence.

In an answer filed Feb. 12, the defendants categorically denied the plaintiff’s claims, demanding strict proof at trial, and in new matter, asserted those same plaintiff claims were barred by the doctrines of privilege, illegality, res judicata, statute of limitations, assumption of risk and immunity from suit.

The plaintiff replied to that same new matter the following day, on Feb. 13, and said the defendants’ response constitutes conclusions of law to which no response is required.

The plaintiff is seeking judgment in its favor and against the defendants in an amount in excess of the jurisdictional limit established by the Court for arbitration, plus interest, costs of prosecution and other relief as the Court deems just and appropriate in this matter.

The plaintiff is represented by Michael G. Gallacher of Dempsey & Gallacher, in Clarks Green.

Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas case 2017-CV-01844

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at

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