Sewage at bottom of lawsuit against city
By John Howell
A lawsuit against the City of Batesville brought by a homeowner on Highway 35 North is slowly moving through the court system.
“We’re just in discovery right now,” said John T. “Trey” Lamar, III of the Senatobia law firm of Hannaford and Lamar, representing plaintiff Sherry Williams. “No court date has been set.”
Williams, who lives at 160 Highway 35 North, filed the lawsuit last July after “city sewage backed up and flooded into her home and her yard” on multiple occasions, starting in March or April, 2015,” the complaint filed on her behalf states.
The sewage problem followed a city contractor’s completion of a project to replace 6,800 feet of four-inch sewer line with a 10-inch line. According to reports published in The Panolian, the project was authorized as an emergency repair at a November, 2014 city board meeting after the city engineer’s office told the mayor and aldermen that increased flow from the W. M. Harmon Industrial Complex and from east Batesville through the smaller pipe was increasing pressure and damaging lift station pumps.
The city in October, 2014 had initially authorized advertisement for bids from contractors to replace the smaller line, but the November decision to declare the replacement an emergency need expedited the project by allowing the work to begin without the lengthy bidding process.
The contractor’s initial estimate of $235,362.65 was raised after extensive boring instead of trenching was used to create a pathway for the 10-inch pipe. The contractor bored under two creeks, two residences, streets and driveways.
“Although City of Batesville officials have made numerous site visits over the last 12-16 months to Ms. Williams’ home regarding this issue and have on multiple occasions admitted to Ms. Williams that this is the City of Batesville’s problem and responsibility, the City has only very recently adequately attempted to fix, alleviate or remedy the problem,” Williams’ states in her complaint, which represents one side of the argument.
The other side of the argument is stated by the Hunt Ross and Allen law firm of Clarksdale, counsel for the city.
“Defendant denies the allegations …” R. Jeff Allen states in his response on the city’s behalf, referring to paragraphs in Williams’ complaint alleging the city’s responsibility and insufficient training and supervision of personnel.
“The sole proximate cause or proximate contributing cause of Plaintiff’s injuries or losses, if any, was the negligent or intentional acts of a third party or parties for whom the Defendant cannot be held responsible …” Allen’s response states.
“The injuries/damages of Plaintiff, if any, were the direct proximate result of her own conduct for which she is responsible to the exclusion of Defendant,” Allen further states in one of 18 defenses filed in his response on behalf of the city.