Council discusses sewer liability issues

The matter of the liability of the City of California in the case of a sewer backup was discussed at a special meeting Monday, April 21.

The meeting was originally called for the swearing in of the new members of the City of California Board of Aldermen, but was expanded to discuss the sewer liability issue.

The sewer issue apparently arose as the result of an incident of sewer backup in the city limits which occurred a few weeks ago.

The City of California insurance broker, Mike Keith, of Mike Keith Insurance, Clinton, appeared before the council to provide information on the subject of liability. According to Keith, the insurance adjuster is responsible for determining whether the city is actually liable for property damage. The city has an 800 number to call when any incident which could involve a city liability issue.

Keith pointed out Missouri Revised Statutes Section 537.600.1 which addresses sovereign immunity for government entities.

According to Keith, the city is not liable for damages occurring as a result of sewer backup unless the city had prior knowledge of the problem and had failed to take action to alleviate the problem or the cause.

It was also pointed out that homeowners insurance is usually not liable for damages in case of a sewer backup, unless the homeowner has purchased additional coverage for such an incident. It is usually available for an additional premium.

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