Perinton, N.Y. --- Last month a town sewer pump failed and spilled raw sewage into a Perinton couple's family room and under their deck. To date the damage totals about $1,200 and the couple believes it will be another $1,000 to replace their destroyed carpet.
But now the insurance company for the Town of Perinton is telling Bill and Judy David that the town isn’t liable for the damages and they will not be getting any reimbursement for repairs.
It happened on March 19th but it seems like yesterday for the Davids who remember the smelly discovery underneath their deck.
"This was all underwater,” Bill David explained while showing 13WHAM News the pipe and cap that was ruptured a month prior and where large amounts of raw sewage and water collected. "No, it smelled, its sewage."
But it wasn't just under the couple's deck, the sewage leak spread inside their home too and destroyed a large portion of their live-in basement.
"She (Judy) started feeling the water underneath the carpeting from here to the wall, into the bathroom and the laundry room and part of the garage," Bill David explained.
The problem was quickly traced to a Town of Perinton Sewer pump positioned along the David’s driveway. It was installed more than two decades ago and the town sends workers to check on it a few times a week. The locked box includes a light and an alarm should something go wrong and in twenty years the David’s have only had to react to it once; they do so by shutting off the alarm and calling the town immediately.
Immediately after they discovered the sewer leak the David’s called the town and were quickly reassured by the responding public works crews.
"He said to me don't worry about it, it's our problem not yours," Judy David recalls of that initial conversation with work crews.
The David’s footed the bill for the initial cleanup including a disinfecting process that lasted four days. Now all they’d like is for the town to reimburse them for that and for a new carpet so they can properly host a family graduation party scheduled for Memorial Day Weekend.
"I want my cleanup to be paid for, I had to pay for the Roto-rooter and the cleanup with the disinfectant and I'd like my carpet replaced,” Judy David said. “That's it."
Yet the David’s received a letter (attached) from Midwest Claims Service, Inc that explains how the Town of Perinton is not liable. The insurance company representing the town on this matter explained in that letter that, “A municipality has no liability unless it had prior notice of the existence of the defect and had a reasonable amount of time to repair the defect.”
Even Perinton Town Supervisor James Smith acknowledges that neither the Davids, nor the town, could have known a fuse was blown before it was actually blown.
"We're kind of between a rock and a hard place," Smith said of the Town’s position. "Even if we wanted to pay them, which in this case I'd be delighted to pay them and just be the nice guy and do what we as individuals feel was the right thing to do; if the town pays them that money it is a gift of public funds and I could go to jail."
Smith tells 13WHAM News that he’ll continue to advocate for the Davids when he again meets with the insurance company later this week.
Since the Davids do not have any flood insurance coverage on their homeowner’s policy they also have no way of filing a claim on their end of things that would satisfy reimbursement. If they did have that coverage most involved believe that the two insurance companies would “haggle out a settlement” as opposed to the current situation.