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Monday, November 7, 2011

Sewage Damage Leads to Lawsuit

Christine and Richard Montagna wanted help from Warren city officials after a May sewer backup left their basement floor covered with 4 inches of putrid water.

"I was hysterical. I was fit to be tied," Christine Montagna said. "Now, when it starts to rain, I cringe."

The Montagnas say they didn't get the help they needed and are now suing the City of Warren in Macomb County Circuit Court, along with about 135 other plaintiffs.

The couple is part of a growing trend among metro Detroit homeowners who are turning to the courts because they believe sewer backups are avoidable and, therefore, the fault of city officials.

The lawsuits come at a time when cities no longer get insurance coverage with limits high enough to cover large court judgments related to sewer backups.

One Detroit-based law firm, Macuga, Liddle & Dubin, has filed lawsuits this year against the cities of Warren, Livonia and Grosse Pointe Farms on behalf of clients after heavy rains May 25-26 caused basements across metro Detroit to flood with raw sewage and rainwater.

Steven Liddle, an attorney with the firm, said it also is considering lawsuits in Garden City, Westland, Dearborn Heights, Allen Park and Detroit.

The lawsuit against Warren, filed Oct. 17 in Macomb County Circuit Court, is the second the firm has filed on behalf of plaintiffs against that city related to sewer backups. David Dubin said that his law firm worked out a $1.5-million settlement for 164 households that had basement flooding in a 1998 sewer backup.

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