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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ind. Decisions - "State Supreme Court rules city utilities can be held liable"

The July 24th transfer list included among the transfer denials the case of City of Bloomington Utilities Dept. v. Misty Walter, Micky Day, et al. Here is the ILB summary of the April 15th COA opinion.

Today Brady Gillihan reports in this story ($$) in the Bloomington Herald-Times:

The Indiana Supreme Court has ruled the City of Bloomington Utilities can be held liable in a case where 300 gallons of sewage backed up into an apartment in 2005.

According to court documents, a mass of tree roots and grease inside a sewer pipe are suspected to have clogged the pipe, causing backflow into the Hillside Drive apartment owned by Hernan and Leslie Cadavid.

One tenant, Misty Walter, told the H-T in 2006 that the flood cost her around $30,000 in lost furniture, clothing, music and wages, and that she and fellow tenant Micky Day were homeless for a month following the flood. * * *

The original complaint was filed on March 21, 2007, with Bloomington Utilities asking for a summary judgment in its favor. The utility held that the decisions it made as a government entity were immune from liability. But the utility was denied.

The appeals court found that the utility’s pipe cleaning procedures were actions in which employees would “exercise professional judgment,” and the utility could be held liable. * * *

Attorneys John Shean and Mike Scarton of Shean Law Offices, representing the homeowners and tenants, called the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision a “landmark case.”

“It confirms the fact that a government-run utility should be held liable to the same standards as private citizens,” Shean wrote in release.

In a telephone interview, Scarton said the next step is either a trial or a settlement. “Either way, this gives our clients the right to proceed.”

Posted by Marcia Oddi on July 29, 2009 09:49 AM
Posted to Indiana Transfer Lists