Highland says it is immune from sewer backup suit

By Ann Maher | Sep 29, 2014

The City of Highland says it immune from liability in a homeowners' sewage backup lawsuit filed last year in Madison County Circuit Court.

The City, represented by John Schaberg of St. Louis, also responded that plaintiffs Lawrence and Pamela Kernan failed to maintain their lateral connection to the sewer system when they knew their home at 618 Pine St. was subject to backups or overflows.

The Kernans claim their home suffered a diminished market value when the city's sewer system backed into their basement through the floor drain and toilet on April 18 and 19, 2013, flooding it with two feet of sewage and waste.

“At or about the time of the sewer backup into the plaintiffs’ residence, the Highland area had experienced a substantial rainfall,” the suit states. “However, that rainfall was not so significant as to cause surface flooding and was not so extraordinary as to cause the city’s sewers to back up into the plaintiff’s basement, in and of itself.”

The City says that whatever damages the Kernans sustained were the direct and proximate result of natural conditions that were unforeseen and not controllable, and that it had no duty to prevent or guard against the damages or otherwise repair or modify its system.

In their complaint, the Kernans seek a judgment of more than $100,000, plus costs.

Stephen M. Kernan of Cook, Ysursa, Bartholomew, Brauer and Shevlin in Belleville represents the Kernans.

Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder presides. A case management conference is set Oct. 29.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 13-L-2105.

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