Gardiner: Lawsuit over road washout ordered back to court by appellate jurists

GARDINER — Property owners who say Jefferson County is responsible for more than $1 million in damage caused when Old Gardiner Road washed out on New Years Day 1997 will get their day in court after all.

The state Court of Appeals Division II ruled this week that the county can be held liable for an alleged role in causing the mudslide after weeklong rains and a snowstorm.

The decision sends a 1999 lawsuit filed by the Gunstone family of Gardiner back to trial in Kitsap County Superior Court.

In November 2002, Kitsap Superior Court Judge Leonard W. Costello erred in stating that Jefferson County has no liability in the matter, the family said in the successful appeal.

An attorney for the county maintains that the family’s own actions contributed to the washout.

The Gunstones claim the county acted improperly when a culvert under Old Gardiner Road and a former railroad right of way at Contractor’s Creek backed up during the storm.

The culvert had already partially collapsed in 1984 when the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad had rails on the fill over the creek.

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