Alton homeowner says house subsided after water main break

Kelly Holleran Apr. 25, 2012, 1:41am

An Alton woman has filed suit against the city where she resided, alleging her home was destroyed after the land subsided beneath due to a water main break.

Betty Tuetken claims she was living at 900 Shelly St. in Alton on May 28, 2011, when a water main broke, causing her home to subside into the land and rendering the premises uninhabitable.

Due to the break, Tuetken sustained a loss of more than $50,000 to her home, according to the lawsuit filed April 16 in Madison County Circuit Court. The city of Alton subsequently condemned her home, the suit states.

At the time of the incident, Tuetken had an insurance policy through defendant State Farm Fire and Casualty Company, according to the complaint. However, when she attempted to file a claim with the
insurance company, it denied it, the suit states.

State Farm told Tuetken that her insurance agent, John Quakenbush, failed to include a provision that would cover the property against mine subsidence or ground movement, the complaint says.

Not only does Tuetken name the insurance company and its agent as defendants, she also says the city of Alton should never have allowed her builder to construct a building on the property because it knew the property was improperly filled. The city also failed to warn the builder that the land was not suitable for a single-family home, the complaint says.

In addition to the city, Tuetken names Illinois-American Water Company as a defendant, saying it negligently designed a water main that broke and caused land subsidence and failed to properly inspect the water line to protect it from breaks.

In her complaint, Tuetken is seeking a judgment of more than $150,000, plus a sum commensurate for the losses she has incurred, costs and other relief the court deems just.

She will be represented by Robert H. Gregory of the Law Office of Robert H. Gregory in East Alton and Merle Bassett of Bassett Law Office in Wood River.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 12-L-482.

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