Madera Co. residents sue Valley Children’s, claim hospital created “nuisance”

Valley Children’s is under legal fire for a large dirt hill placed next to the hospital while construction is taking place.

Valley Children’s Hospital is facing a lawsuit for allegedly being a bad neighbor as it works on a new construction project. 

GV Wire first reported the lawsuit on Tuesday. 


The backstory: In 2014, Madera County approved a permit for Valley Children’s to construct a stormwater basin and make other infrastructure improvements on the south side of the hospital. 

  • The hospital started construction on the project in 2021. 

Driving the news: That same year, Madera County residents Martina Hamilton and Noam Shimler, who live together in a house just east of the hospital, filed a lawsuit against Valley Children’s for a private nuisance and trespassing. 

  • Hamilton and Shimler are taking issue with a large pile of dirt that Valley Children’s has placed next to their home while the stormwater basin project is being worked on. 
  • According to the lawsuit, the dirt pile is 14 feet high and spans 366,000 square feet. 
  • The dirt is not covered by a tarp and is blowing onto Hamilton’s and Shimler’s property, which they say has decreased their property value and ruined their yard, making it very difficult to spend time outside. 

Go deeper: According to GV Wire, Hamilton and Shimler said they were never notified by the county about the project, although Madera County says otherwise. 

  • Three years ago, shortly before construction began, Valley Children’s filed a civil improvement plan with Madera County, which included “dust control notes” such as spray water, tarpaulins, dust palliatives or planting as options to mitigate the dust. 
  • Yet Hamilton and Shimler claim that no such measures have been taken. 
  • Valley Children’s also filed a dust control plan with the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, which says the hospital is in compliance. The air control district performed testing to confirm that the dirt is stabilized, meaning there are not fine particles generated from wind. 

What they’re saying: “The dirt has been blowing, drifting, settling all over the property of our house, cars, our yard,” Shimler told GV Wire. “We are unable to freely open our windows for two years now. I have to clean my house every single day. Vacuum, wipe the floor, wipe the surfaces because dirt is just seeping in. We can’t keep our cars clean for more than a day.” 

  • Hamilton said they are unable to sit or cook outside because of the dust. 
  • “We are asking for them to remove this pile of dirt away from our home,” Hamilton said. “We want to be able to open our windows.” 
  • Shimler added, “It’s kind of ironic because their CEO (Todd Suntrapak) in his interview likes to talk about doing the right thing. And I don’t know how this mountain of dirt in front of a home is doing the right thing for their neighbors.”
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