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  1. #1

    Default Seeking Compensation for Erroneous Disconnection of Utilities

    Hopefully this is the right forum.

    So, yesterday, the city shut off our water for non-payment, completely in error. No attempt was made to contact us prior, or to ascertain that the address and meter were correct. I called them, within 2 minutes of it happening, gave them the confirmation on the payment (I have literally never missed or had a late payment on the water bills), and they confirmed that their own system showed the payment had been made and our water had been shut off by mistake. I was told that they would contact the crew to come turn my water back on. Despite the fact that at that point whoever had turned the meter off couldn't have been more than a mile away, it took until today and another call for our water to actually be turned back on. As a result, we were unable to shower, wash clothes, or flush the toilet, were without drinking water, and were forced to waste our extremely limited funds purchasing food because we were unable to wash dishes. Does this rise to the level of negligence on the part of the city, and what recourse, if any, do we have to seek compensation?

    I'm in Virginia.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    38,434

    Default Re: Seeking Compensation for Erroneous Disconnection of Utilities

    No but even if you could;

    You're talking about a day without running water. If no water for one day has upset your life that much, you might want to study up on emergency management activities. Anybody should be able to handle a day without running water.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Seeking Compensation for Erroneous Disconnection of Utilities

    Obviously I can manage a day without water. But the main way that gets managed is by spending money, because I have a family to feed. And that money would not have been spent had the city not mistakenly turned my water off and then failed to turn it back on in a reasonable amount of time.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    38,434

    Default Re: Seeking Compensation for Erroneous Disconnection of Utilities

    An error does not equal negligence.

    Btw: you could have gone to the store and bought water. You wouldn’t have had to take the family out to dinner although in my most liberal thinking I can’t imagine why not being able to wash dishes would prevent you from eating at home.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    Default Re: Seeking Compensation for Erroneous Disconnection of Utilities

    Have to agree with JK that there were cheaper choices anyway especially if you still had electricity. Mistakes happen. Honestly everyone should be prepared for 2-3 days with no water or no electricity - spend $10 and stock up on gallon water jugs or wash out old milk jugs, fill with tap water and store for almost free. (I live in a house where I have no water when the power is out due to the lack of electricity to the well so I have to be prepared).

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
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    Massachusetts
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    Default Re: Seeking Compensation for Erroneous Disconnection of Utilities

    (Where I live you can buy bottled water by the gallon for under a dollar a gallon and use it for any purpose you like, including washing dishes, pots, pans and utensils.)

    No, this doesn't rise to the level of negligence.

    Happy now?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    Default Re: Seeking Compensation for Erroneous Disconnection of Utilities

    You can certainly ask them for some kind of compensation and they may provide some as a goodwill gesture but you don't really have a legal case. If the only reason you purchased other food was because you couldn't clean your dishes, unless they were already dirty at that point, they would point out there is no real harm in dishes sitting dirty for a day.

  8. #8
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    Mar 2013
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    Default Re: Seeking Compensation for Erroneous Disconnection of Utilities

    Quote Quoting IrishRover716
    View Post
    Does this rise to the level of negligence on the part of the city
    Yes, it's negligence. Mistakes get made because somebody was negligent.

    Quote Quoting IrishRover716
    View Post
    what recourse, if any, do we have to seek compensation?
    Step 1 - Pick a dollar amount that you think will cover your inconvenience. Did you spend any money as a result of your inconvenience? If not, then 1/31 of your January bill should cover 1 day without water. Or 2/31 if you want to call it yesterday and today.

    Step 2 - Call the water company and ask for a credit of that amount on your next bill.

    Step 3 - If the water company people say no, then file a lawsuit in small claims court and convince the judge that you are entitled to compensation. If you win, your filing and process service fees get included in your compensation.

    Good luck.


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Seeking Compensation for Erroneous Disconnection of Utilities

    Quote Quoting IrishRover716
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    Does this rise to the level of negligence on the part of the city, and what recourse, if any, do we have to seek compensation?
    Quote Quoting adjusterjack
    View Post
    Yes, it's negligence. Mistakes get made because somebody was negligent.
    While not all mistakes rise to the level of actionable negligence, mistakes do often reflect negligence -- and it's difficult to believe that there was no act, along the way, that could be categorized as negligence. But with this being a municipal water service, there is also the possibility that any liability is cut off by principles of governmental immunity. Although a full analysis should be made by a Virginia lawyer, as immunity issues can be complex, I suspect that water service would be regarded by Virginia's courts as being for the public good, without a goal of special or pecuniary profit, such that governmental immunity would attach to negligence in the provision of that service.

    The municipal utility may be willing to offer some form of credit or compensation. You won't know until you ask. But I am skeptical that this matter can successfully be taken to court.

  10. #10
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    Mar 2013
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    Default Re: Seeking Compensation for Erroneous Disconnection of Utilities

    Quote Quoting Mr. Knowitall
    View Post
    I am skeptical that this matter can successfully be taken to court.
    So am I.

    I thought about putting a sarcasm alert in my post. But I thought the emoticon would convey it.

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