Years of Sewer Backups in South Dakota Town Prompt Lawsuits

March 2, 2015

Thirteen Spearfish, S.D., residents have sued the city over years of sewer backups.

Plaintiffs say in their lawsuit that they have suffered through a series of sewer backups stretching back to 2008, leading to stinky, flooded basements and lost possessions.

Jennifer and Adrian Netterberg, who are among the suing homeowners, said they have suffered $40,000 in damages to their home through the years. They and others are tired of trying to get relief from the city, Jennifer Netterberg told the Black Hills Pioneer.

“We all are sick of it. We are sick of taking time out of our day to send more documentation, sit with their lawyer for hours,” she said. “We all feel like we have been swept under the rug. We feel like we have been treated unfairly, and we are all angry.”

The city is negligent because it isn’t maintaining adequate sewer lines, plaintiff’s attorney John Fitzgerald said.

City Attorney Tom Brady said the city is not necessarily liable for damages caused by an infrastructure problem.

“Backups do and will occur, which is the very nature of a sanitary system,” he said in a statement to the Rapid City Journal. “Users of the system have risk. Such an event may be as the result of the condition or location of their service line or some other cause for which the city is not responsible. All homeowners can insure against such risk, which many do, and unfortunately some do not.”

The lawsuit seeks undisclosed damages. It is scheduled for trial in July.

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