A Deltona resident will receive $250,000 from settling a lawsuit with the city, nearly three years after raw sewage flooded the house in District 4.
The City Commission unanimously approved the settlement agreement Monday night, about a business week after a judge filed an order directing the city to move forward with the agreement or face being held in contempt.
"It's about time we fix this problem," Mayor Heidi Herzberg said following the commission's vote.
The city's insurance company will cover $123,249 and change of the cost, and the rest will be covered by the city's unrestricted reserves.
In addition to moving the settlement with David Foote forward, John Peters III, the city's acting manager and a licensed engineer, said that he and staff determined a private lift station at the Waycross Court property is likely the best solution to prevent any future sewage issues.
"We have a very unusual utility situation here where the lift station is higher than some of the surrounding properties, so when the lift station fails, it will back up the sewer system," Peters said.
When a backup occurs, sewage water will seek the lowest point of relief, which, in this case, was Foote's property, Peters said.
The cost of such a fix may vary, but if it's more than $25,000, which Peters said he's hopeful it wouldn't be, the purchase would come back to the commission for approval.
In a letter regarding the lawsuit, which was filed in January 2020, Peters agreed the city was at fault for the overflow.
"Following the first backup, the city installed an emergency generator such that future backups would not occur with a loss of power to the lift station 7 site," Peters wrote June 15. "Unfortunately, the city suffered a malfunctioning generator at a later date that resulted in a second sewer backup."
The first incident at the Waycross Court property occurred in 2004, according to Peters' letter.
The lawsuit also mentions another backup that happened in 2012.
The settlement agreement approved Monday night was reached between the parties on April 19, according to court records. On June 9, Circuit Judge Randell H. Rowe III filed an order directing the city to honor the agreement or face being held in contempt of court.
The agreement stems from an incident "on or about July 6, 2018," when, at Foote's home on Waycross Court, "raw sewage came out of the toilets and shower drains covering plaintiff's entire living space floors resulting in raw sewage consuming and contaminating the air, destroying plaintiff's clothes, furniture, personal belongings and structure," according to the lawsuit.
A few of the commissioners asked Peters and Marsha Segal-George, city attorney, the reason for the delay in addressing the agreement and Foote's problem.
Segal-George said one reason was the delay in the city attorney getting the case.
Attempts to work something out with the city's insurer, which would usually use its own legal representation in such a case, didn't come to fruition, and since the insurer hadn't budgeted for a lawyer, the Foote case fell to the city attorney, Segal-George said.
Both Peters and Segal-George said the turnover in representation — in the roles of city manager, city attorney, risk manager and city insurer — in recent years also was a factor in the delayed addressing of the property's problem.
Segal-George said it would've been cheaper for the city to purchase the home, but Foote didn't want to sell.
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The final appraisal of the property in 2020 was $218,404, according to property records.
In the civil cover sheet filed in January 2020, Foote wrote that he was seeking $218,194 in damages for what happened to his home.
With two other lawsuits having come across the dais in recent months, Peters told the commission Monday night that he plans on giving monthly updates on the status of lawsuits against the city.
This article originally appeared on The Daytona Beach News-Journal: Deltona commission approves $250K settlement in case of sewage flooding resident's home
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