Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Tales from the Raw Sewage Trial
The City of Fayetteville is in the dock this week. It is being sued for damages for inverse condemnation on a complaint alleging that it allowed raw sewage to run across a Wilson Park homeowner's property for seven years and diminished its value due to the stench and the mold growth in the home.
Also being sued for trespass, nuisance and negligence, are Mark Risk and David and Andrea Fournet, owners of uphill residences for the sewage draining onto the property. Jeanny Romine first reported the problem in 1998, and it was finally fixed in 2005 after she filed the lawsuit. The city also forced Risk and Fourtnet to connect to the city sewer main in front of their houses.
The raw sewage that was spilling onto Romine's lawn continued to run into the city’s storm drain system and eventually into Scull Creek, a stream that flows through Wilson Park and along the city's new trail system. Westbrook Doss, Romine's attorney, said the city never took her seriously and did not respect her, because they thought she was easy to ignore.
According to the Northwest Arkansas Times, "James Mike Duncan, a television reporter for KNWA in 2004, testified that Mayor Dan Coody tried to talk him out of airing the story about sewer spills on Romine’s property. Coody painted Romine as 'an eccentric' and said he did not think the story had much merit."
Whether Romine's claim has merit will be a question for the jury to decide later this week. Whether the mayor respects citizens who report problems with the sewer system will be decided in two weeks.