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Property owners sue Berkeley Co. Public Service Sewer District

Suit says home was flooded with raw sewage because the publicly managed sewer system failed to properly function

September 21, 2010|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- The Berkeley County Public Service Sewer District has been sued by property owners who say their home has been flooded with raw sewage four times since February 2008.

Sewer district general counsel William F. Rohrbaugh said he was aware of the complaint filed in Berkeley County Circuit Clerk Virginia M. Sine's office on behalf of Dolly and Rex Fergus of 46 Larkspur Lane, but declined to comment other than to acknowledge the substance of the complaint.

Rohrbaugh did say that the sewer district retained legal counsel to file a response to the suit.

The Ferguses contend that their home was flooded with raw sewage because the publicly managed sewer system failed to properly function, according to a six-page complaint filed by attorney Gregory A. Bailey.

After causing "extensive damage" to their property in incidents on Feb. 1 and Nov. 18, 2008, the sewer district "represented to (the Ferguses) in writing that they had taken steps to insure that the sewer system would not malfunction again," Bailey wrote in the complaint.

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A little more than 60 days later, the couple's home was flooded again with sewage, according to Bailey's complaint.

And two days after Bailey's initial complaint was filed last month, the attorney said in an amended complaint filed Sept. 1 in Sine's office that his clients' home was flooded again on Aug. 5.

"The value of (their) real property has been diminished significantly because of the defendant's failure to construct, operate, maintain or fix the deficient sewer system," Bailey said in the complaint.

Bailey's clients allege that the sewer district has been negligent in its duty to provide the utility service, allowed conditions that constitute a nuisance and illegal trespass, according to court records.

The plaintiffs have asked the court to schedule a jury trial to award damages, prejudgment and post-judgment interest on any damage award, attorney fees and costs.

The suit also asks the court to issue an injunction to compel the sewer district to abate the alleged nuisance.

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