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Lawsuit against Carlsbad over sliding hillside settled

Lawsuit against Carlsbad over sliding hillside settled
Posted at 5:23 PM, Mar 18, 2024

CARLSBAD, Calif. (KGTV) — Several families in Carlsbad are relieved that their lawsuit against the city over a sliding hillside behind their homes has been settled.

Eight homeowners in the 4200 block of Trieste Drive just east of El Camino Real filed the lawsuit in the spring of 2020.

Nancy DePretis and her husband have lived in this Carlsbad neighborhood for 24 years. They chose this area for the schools and the backyard.

"We had a tree house here for our boys, and we have a bench with lots of family memories. It's just really sad to see it go," said DePretis.

DePretis says they haven't been able to use their backyard for four years. It's covered in tarps. The 50-year-old tree she loves and everything around it is sliding down the city-owned hillside. DePretis says the drop started gradually, but last month's rain storm dramatically accelerated it.

"We saw it starting off as a smaller problem. Over time, as the weeks and months and years continued, what used to be a very small drop turned into several feet," said DePretis.

Philip Kunka of the Naumann Law Firm represented the families.

"We found the slope failure was being caused by a lack of maintenance on it by the city of Carlsbad as well as a lack of maintenance in the drainage channel that runs at the bottom of the slope, said Kunka.

Friday—three weeks into a four-week trial, the city announced a surprise settlement. A spokesperson says the city council authorized the settlement, but it still needs to be finalized. The families are expected to split seven million dollars.

"This settlement actually gets our clients money in their pocket, but most importantly, the city is committed to fixing the slope," said Kunka.

Monday morning, that work was underway, but once the hillside is stabilized, it'll be six months before families can even begin to repair their homes.

"We are relieved we've reached a settlement, but still, for us, we're at the beginning of a long journey," said DePretis.

Part of the settlement requires the repairs to be completed by October.