City Must Pay Residents $548,000 for Flood of Sewage
The city of Milwaukee must pay 129 residents for flooding that caused sewage backup during a storm in 2008.
Some homeowners described sewage as shooting up from their toilets in their basements after heavy rain started.
The residents argued that the reason for the flooding that damaged their homes was that the city did not grease the hinges of eight flap doors on the city’s sewers, causing rust and malfunctioning.
The flaps are supposed to close if larger regional sewers fill up with waste water, according to Chris Trebatoski, an attorney who represented the residents in the lawsuit.
The malfunction caused sewage from regional sewers to flood into the smaller city sewers which in turn stopped draining and backed up into people’s basements.
The city’s attorney, Jan Smokowicz, however, blamed the “massive storm” on June 7, 2008 that overwhelmed the city’s sewer system. He recommended the jury assign only 30 percent responsibility to the city and spread the rest of the blame on the regional sewer system and a private contractor that operates facilities for the district. Those two entities were originally named as defendants but paid $1.5 million to the residents to settle claims and be released from any damages found by the jury.
Trebatoski asked jurors to put 100 percent of the blame on the city and award homeowners $4 million to $5 million.
The jury, however, decided that the city was only one-third to blame and therefore will only pay that portion of the jury’s $1.5 million verdict, or about $548,000.