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  1. #1

    Default Water Line on My Property Broken by City Worker. Who's Liable

    My question involves personal property located in the State of: WI

    I got a letter from the city saying that every 10 years, the water meter in my basement needs to be changed/updated. There is no cost to the property owner. So I scheduled a time for them to come to my house today and they came and replaced the meter, but fractured the main pipe that leads from my basement out to the street. I asked the guy if the city would be paying for the repair ($2,600 estimated), but he said that since it's on private property, it would be my responsibility. The water is now shut off and I have someone scheduled to come out tomorrow morning. Not sure if he's going to just assess it or do the repair.

    The good news (supposedly) is that there's currently a grant from the city for people to get reimbursed for replacing LEAD lines up to $2,000. The guy from the city gave me papers about this. However, I'm not seeing how I benefit since my pipes are galvanized. That's something else I'll have to get cleared up.

    But legally, who is responsible for this? Is it me because I own the property, or is it the city because it was their mandate and actions that caused the pipe to break and for me to now be without water service until the pipe is replaced?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    17,212

    Default Re: Water Line on My Property Broken by City Worker. Who's Liable

    Don't take legal advice from a plumber.

    Of course he's responsible (or his employer).

    Call the person at the city who wrote you that letter and report it.

    Right now!

    Before you spend anything. Should have done that immediately.

    And follow up in writing.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Water Line on My Property Broken by City Worker. Who's Liable

    Quote Quoting adjusterjack
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    Don't take legal advice from a plumber.

    Of course he's responsible (or his employer).

    Call the person at the city who wrote you that letter and report it.

    Right now!

    Before you spend anything. Should have done that immediately.

    And follow up in writing.
    Their office is closed for the day. The contractor is coming tomorrow at 8:30 in the morning. Should I let them do the work, or would that be a mistake?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
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    3,288

    Default Re: Water Line on My Property Broken by City Worker. Who's Liable

    Quote Quoting Novicelegal
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    Their office is closed for the day. The contractor is coming tomorrow at 8:30 in the morning. Should I let them do the work, or would that be a mistake?
    Let them do the work. You need your water back on. Then you can present the bill to the city for reimbursement. If they don't pay you come back and ask for the particulars on suing them.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Water Line on My Property Broken by City Worker. Who's Liable

    Quote Quoting PayrolGuy
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    Let them do the work. You need your water back on. Then you can present the bill to the city for reimbursement. If they don't pay you come back and ask for the particulars on suing them.
    I was thinking that if I let them do the work, I wouldn't get reimbursed even if the city was responsible. Would it be best to let them handle it from start to finish?
    I'm trying to contact them by email, but am getting the run-around. Their site says I need to create an account, which it's not allowing me to do. So I can't even email them. I registered an account, and now they said they sent my email a confirmation to click on, but I'm not getting it. I tried it a second time and I still don't get the confirmation email. I'm getting really upset now! I can't even talk to these people, either by phone or even email!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    15,660

    Default Re: Water Line on My Property Broken by City Worker. Who's Liable

    Quote Quoting Novicelegal
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    I was thinking that if I let them do the work, I wouldn't get reimbursed even if the city was responsible. Would it be best to let them handle it from start to finish?
    I'm trying to contact them by email, but am getting the run-around. Their site says I need to create an account, which it's not allowing me to do. So I can't even email them. I registered an account, and now they said they sent my email a confirmation to click on, but I'm not getting it. I tried it a second time and I still don't get the confirmation email. I'm getting really upset now! I can't even talk to these people, either by phone or even email!
    Try again right at 8AM in the morning. Forget email, you need to be one the phone with them.

  7. #7
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    Mar 2013
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    Default Re: Water Line on My Property Broken by City Worker. Who's Liable

    Quote Quoting Novicelegal
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    I was thinking that if I let them do the work, I wouldn't get reimbursed even if the city was responsible.
    That's not necessarily true.

    Quote Quoting Novicelegal
    View Post
    Would it be best to let them handle it from start to finish?
    It would. But if you can't get through to anybody tomorrow you spend the weekend without water.

    It's up to you.

    But if you let the contractor do the work make sure you take lots of close up photos of the damaged pipe and the repair process. If you have a digital camera that takes photos and video at the same time, do both.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
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    6,450

    Default Re: Water Line on My Property Broken by City Worker. Who's Liable

    Quote Quoting PayrolGuy
    View Post
    Let them do the work. You need your water back on. Then you can present the bill to the city for reimbursement. If they don't pay you come back and ask for the particulars on suing them.
    You don't just get to sue the city. You first have 120 days (in WI) to file a notice of claim under their Totes Claim Act. (893.80) and you would have to be able to prove that the city worker was negligent in his care and duty that was the cause of the broken pipe in contrast to the pipe being in such bad condition that it broke when he went to change the meter. Would the city's insurer pay such a claim? There is no way to tell but given how many meters the city replaces without breaking a pipe, I doubt it but it can't hurt to file the claim.

    So I suggest that OP get ready to hand over the $2.600.00 and get the pipe fixed and have his water turned back on. Then hope for the best. If he can't work it out with the city (perhaps that grant for lead pipe replacement is an olive branch) the pipe is on private property and absence negligence he is responsible for the repair.

    OP should be contacting his homeowner's insurance company. It may be covered. 

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
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    3,288

    Default Re: Water Line on My Property Broken by City Worker. Who's Liable

    Quote Quoting budwad
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    You don't just get to sue the city. You first have 120 days (in WI) to file a notice of claim under their Totes Claim Act. (893.80) ...
    Hence, my statement that the OP return and ask about particulars of suing.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    19,248

    Default Re: Water Line on My Property Broken by City Worker. Who's Liable

    Totes Claim? Is that something you make to get stylish rain gear?

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