WAVERLY, Tenn. (WKRN) — Ten families that lost loved ones in the August Waverly floods filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit Tuesday, pointing fingers at CSX Transportation and the property owners of the land along Highway 70 by the tracks.
Dozens from the community came out to stand with the families named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit as they held a public news conference regarding the suit.
“She’s all I had,” cried Michelle Feliciano.
Seven-year-old Lucy Connor’s cry for help as she was swept away by floodwaters still echoes in the heartbroken mother’s mind.
“I couldn’t see, I couldn’t find my baby I was trying so hard to search for her,” Feliciano recalled. “The last thing I heard was her trying to call out for me.”
It was a fight for survival as water continued to fall, filling Feliciano’s home — a fight her little girl didn’t survive.
“I couldn’t, I couldn’t save her,” she cried.
It’s a heartache that she suffers she says at someone else’s negligence.
Feliciano is one of 10 families suing CSX Properties and the owners of the property, saying they failed to inspect and clean the levee beneath the elevated tracks, causing a dam. The debris suddenly gave way causing a deadly a man-made tidal wave, according to the lawsuit.
“You should never have a man-made tidal wave flow into a town, it should never happen. I’m not sure it’s ever happened before in the United States,” Attorney Peter Flowers with Meyers & Flowers Law Firm in Chicago stated.
Tracy Kilburn is also named in the case, she lost her husband Scott as he jumped in the water to try and save a woman struggling to stay afloat.
“And within maybe ten seconds of him going in is when the title wave hit and it took him, her and another person that was nearby,” Kilburn explained.
The victims say the suit isn’t about the money, but accountability.
“I don’t care about the money, I just want change to be made. I don’t want this to happen again,” said Feliciano.
“I do stuff all over the country, all over the world and frankly this is one of the most horrific incidents that I’ve ever seen. This is about holding companies responsible, this is about justice and as all of our clients have told us, this is about making sure this never happens again here or anywhere,” stated Flowers.
The suit asks for $450 million.
CSX sent the below statement in response:
“Our most heartfelt thoughts are with the families whose lives were tragically impacted by this historic weather event. While we can’t comment on any specific allegations of the lawsuit, it is important to point out that the significant rain storm in August of 2021 that resulted in the catastrophic flooding of many communities in Middle Tennessee, including Waverly, was an unprecedented and extraordinary event. CSX track and related infrastructure is maintained and regularly inspected in accordance with CSX policies, which meet or exceed federal regulations.”CSX Corporation Spokesperson