Bloomington attorney: 10 residents prepared to sue city for flood damages

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BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — The City of Bloomington is facing a possible lawsuit if it doesn’t pay residents money for damages occurred during heavy rains and severe storms in June.

Local attorney, William Marht said he has 10 clients who want the city to pay them all a total of more than $300,000 after they said their homes were damaged by sewage flooding the inside of their homes. The cause, they said, are the city’s sewers.

Mahrt said damages range from $10-75,000 per client. He said he sent a letter, or what he described as a “proposed settlement,” to the city manager and city staff asking for direct compensation to be paid to mostly Eastgate Neighborhood residents.

Mahrt argued the city has an obligation to pay the residents and said the claims are supported by case law and previous court rulings.

“It’s been the law in the State of Illinois for more than 100 years that a municipality has a duty to refrain from discharging sanitary sewage onto private property. The city breached that duty [when] it caused thousands of dollars in damage,” Mahrt said. “So, the people who own that property are the ones who are entitled to compensation. It’s no different than a private civil claim.”

Mahrt said the damages don’t have to do with heavy rains, rather the city’s infrastructure.

“Normally a city does have immunity from tort liability–liability from harm that it does, that’s what tort means,” Mahrt said. “But when it comes to managing its own property, in the case of the sewer, the sewer is a piece of property that the city owns. It doesn’t have tort immunity when it knows that there’s a problem and does nothing to fix it.”

Mahrt also said no lawsuit has been filed yet, and most cases get settled before any lawsuit gets filed.

City Manager Tim Gleason did not comment on the letter, but a spokesperson with his officer said “outside defense counsel” will respond to Mahrt’s letter.

On Monday, city council voted on a plan for residents to consider all state and federal funding option the when those reach $100,000 or less, council will discuss funding a local option.

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