Family files suit against Davenport for sewer backup

2013-05-31T18:57:00Z 2013-06-01T15:17:15Z Family files suit against Davenport for sewer backupThomas Geyer The Quad-City Times
May 31, 2013 6:57 pm  • 

A family has filed a lawsuit against Davenport after the city's sanitary sewer system backed up into their basement during the heavy rains of April 17-18.

Bettendorf attorney Mike Meloy filed the lawsuit Friday in Scott County District Court for Ronald and Linda Wiebold, whose basement in their home at 525 W. Garfield St. was flooded with sewer waste during the two-day storm.

Named as defendants in the suit are the city of Davenport, Mayor Bill Gluba, and Public Works Director Mike Clarke.

Meloy said the suit claims that the city has failed to properly maintain its sanitary and storm sewer systems. By not maintaining those systems, sewer water was allowed to infiltrate the stormwater system and it backed up into the Wiebolds’ basement, according to the lawsuit.

A total of 4.11 inches of rain fell on the Quad-Cities during April 17-18, according to official National Weather Service statistics kept at the Quad-City International Airport in Moline.

“It was up to the third step in our basement,” Ronald Wiebold said Friday of the sewer water that inundated the basement. “There was about 2 ½ to 3 feet of waste. We had feces on the floor. It was nasty. It was terrible.”

Wiebold said they were able to clean up the mess, but whenever there is a heavy rain, “we have to be vigilant around here. During the Memorial Day weekend, we were here all weekend because of the rains. The frustration level is unbelievable. We shouldn’t have to live like this.”

While that was the first time the sewer backed up into their basement, Wiebold said it continues to do so at the homes of some neighbors.

“If the city of Davenport didn’t repair Brady Street for 10 years and it was full of potholes, the citizens of Davenport would raise hell,” Meloy said. “These people are fed up with the situation. There will probably be more lawsuits filed by more residents on this matter.

“We’ve got millions to buy a casino, but we have no money to fix the sewers, nothing to spend on this delinquent sewer system,” he added.

Meloy said he is asking for monetary damages and injunctive relief against the city by asking the court “to order the city to fix the sewer system that they own, operate and maintain.”

Jennifer Nahra, the communications director for the city, released a statement saying the city is “processing the Wiebolds’ claim. If the process reveals the city is responsible for the backup, the Risk Division will work with them to process city payment for the damage.

“At this point, the city has not denied or accepted any claims,” Nahra’s statement continued. “It would be unfortunate if the Wiebolds or any other resident incur the unnecessary cost of an attorney through this process without first receiving confirmation as to the end status of the claim, especially if it is accepted by the city. Each claim will be thoroughly reviewed and will require some time to fully investigate.”

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(19) Comments

  1. LottiDi
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    LottiDi - June 03, 2013 10:33 am
    PTA, your property taxes went down because your property value decreased. homes that continue to appreciate typically see a raise in property taxes. The tax code is available on the city's website.
    CD, I understand your frustration, and I can only assume that this problem isn't one you've had to deal with based on your comments. Flood insurance on a homeowners policy covers catastrophic losses due to natural occurrences. The water company contracts with a third party company to provide sewer flood insurance, which would be perfect, but only covers issues related to a particular house (i.e. when YOUR pipes are the problem). This flooding, however, is due to an 85 year old sewer system that has not been properly maintained and updated by the city; a problem that the city admittedly understands must be overhauled, but has chosen not to budget for over ten years. Sadly, this IS a city government problem. I am not acquainted with the petitioner in this matter, but I'm positive that name calling and bringing up old business is unnecessary. The city has already advised homeowners to file claims with risk management to begin compensation for flood damages because it is widely known and undisputed that the city is at fault. Relax. The city has already taken responsibly. Now all we need is citizens who are understanding of city issues enough that they can constructively help resolve the budget problem to repair it so that it doesn't cost us MORE money down the road.
  2. pta mom
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    pta mom - June 02, 2013 1:48 pm
    Great points, cd!!
  3. cd1001
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    cd1001 - June 02, 2013 1:28 pm
    I will say, however, that I can understand the frustration of the homeowners -- it must be awful. Hopefully they have tried simple fixes like backflow valves.

    Malloy really is an ambulance chaser in its worst form. He was an idiot while he was working for the city and he is no smarter now. However, maybe the city can use this kind of lawsuit to force its citizens to approve of spending on infrastructure. At the federal and state levels, we seem to need bridges to crumble and fall into rivers for people to say, "Okay, maybe we should spend some tax money on infrastructure." At the city level, this might be what it takes.
  4. cd1001
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    cd1001 - June 02, 2013 1:17 pm
    Everybody wants everything, but nobody wants to pay for anything.
    Increase taxes. Invest in infrastructure. Simple. But, nooooo, scream about taxes, then scream when not enough is spent for your particular issue.

    This should be addressed and fixed. But it has to be paid for with... taxes. The city is running on nothing, the state is cutting the city even further, and the Republicans do nothing but complain about both taxes and infrastructure. Pick one, guys -- low taxes or better infrastructure.
  5. cd1001
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    cd1001 - June 02, 2013 1:13 pm
    Yeah, right. Replacing all the infrastructure should be.... FREE!
    *rolling eyes*
    You people want everything from the government, but you don't want to pay for it. I'm curious as to how that is supposed to happen?
  6. pta mom
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    pta mom - June 02, 2013 1:11 pm
  7. cd1001
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    cd1001 - June 02, 2013 1:07 pm
    What the heck are you doing in a flood plain without flood insurance? Dumbest thing I've ever heard. It's not like you couldn't figure out your house was going to be in floods when you bought it.
    It's the government's fault. *rolling eyes*
  8. LottiDi
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    LottiDi - June 02, 2013 9:03 am
    PTA mom, did the assessment value go down as well?
  9. pta mom
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    pta mom - June 02, 2013 8:37 am
    My taxes went down this year. Anybody else?
  10. LottiDi
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    LottiDi - June 02, 2013 12:30 am
    Ambulance chaser, huh? I personally replaced my water heater, washer and dryer after the flooding last month. This time we got two feet of water and I get to replace them all again. We are not talking about one or two houses being affected, but the entirety of Central Davenport's home owning community. My property taxes nearly doubled this year, so explain to me why I should not expect the city to maintain a sewer system that doesn't empty into my basement? The issue is CHRONIC, but totally solvable! A couple million dollars for a skateboard park? $500 thousand to put a restroom in another park? There's no sense in paying to upgrade a community if you force your residents to consider leaving for good.
  11. ExQC911
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    ExQC911 - June 01, 2013 11:38 pm
    I wonder if the home owner did anything to protect his home, such as installing back flow valves on his drains, etc. ?
  12. longjohn412
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    longjohn412 - June 01, 2013 3:37 pm
    Funny how the Righties don't believe Government should be Responsible when they create an UNDENIABLE Health Hazard .....
  13. Family man
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    Family man - June 01, 2013 2:04 pm
    Adding this coverage to your policy will cost more money. Why should anyone have to pay extra on their insurance because the city does not use it's funds correctly? Why should the insurance company have to pay claims because the city doesn't use it's funds correctly. In sorry, I said its funds, should have said our funds.
  14. Klaatu
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    Klaatu - June 01, 2013 2:03 pm
    I really doubt the city would have paid that claim. There are hundreds of houses with the problem. This is a huge can of worms. The best outcome would be a victory followed by a property tax increase to pay for it. I feel for these people, they will get the short end no matter what happens.
  15. Cry to your momma
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    Cry to your momma - June 01, 2013 9:48 am
    They get the money from the new casino
  16. sundance
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    sundance - May 31, 2013 10:44 pm
    And I hope you pay for their "win."
  17. sundance
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    sundance - May 31, 2013 10:25 pm
    Meloy is an ambulance chaser. This family only had to file a claim to the city. Meloy tries to make a living suing the city of Davenport. He was fired by the city for being incompetent.
  18. taxhater
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    taxhater - May 31, 2013 10:03 pm
    If they win and the city spends millions of dollars to fix the problem, where do you think they will get the money. Each homeowner can add this coverage to their homeowner's policy. I did after it happened to me. People need to stop filing a lawsuit for everything. Take some personal responsibility
  19. Family man
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    Family man - May 31, 2013 9:28 pm
    I really hope they win!
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