OKLAHOMA CITY – When you buy a home in the metro (if you’re one city water and sewer) you don’t have a choice but to use the system that’s already there.
But what happens when that system breaks down and you’re left holding the bill?
That was recently the case for two homeowners. These two homeowners say they had no choice but to sue the city.
“Lee and I went to bed around 9:00 p.m. as I rolled and looked at the clock she said do you hear water running?”I stepped out of my bed and I stepped in sewage….It was not just running out of our toilet it was shooting out of our toilet and had already come up out of the bathtub as well as in the shower. It was coming down the hallway.”
Meanwhile, his next door neighbor Brent Grisham was living the same horrible scene.
“I’m awakened by the smell. The odor of it – you just can’t imagine the odor of raw sewage coming in your home. It was flooding out of the toilet as well as the shower and it had flooded my office and had flooded lee’s sewing room.”
Rutledge recalls the evening.
“It was coming out from underneath the desk .And the sewage was shooting out of the toilet this high. I even put my fist down the toilet and it was coming up over my head.”
Both neighbors ran to the garage where it was flowing down the driveway.”
Then outside the house where Brent witnesses the worst, “Before I know he’s coming out, and he slips and falls in that sewage.”
We’re told the cause was a root that clogged the city pipe, and caused pressure build-up and then broke through.
Grisham said within 15 minutes these families lives were changed forever.
“Even today we don’t know what’s growing in our walls, my wife has had some dizzy type spells come about – we don’t know what’s affecting us.”
Not to mention clean up costs and long term monetary damage.
“My only asset was this house. What’s it worth? It’d just be like a fire sale. I mean cause who’s going to buy a house that’s been flooded by raw sewage.”
The couples filled out paperwork offered them, but say they received no help.
So they took it to court two weeks ago. Attorney Jim Buxton represented them.
“I asked the jury to do justice for my clients – 49:53 “and they returned a verdict of 400 thousand dollars total.”
But, the city says initial paperwork filled out by these two educated families was incorrect.
Despite the jury’s verdict, the city will only give them 25 thousand each.
Buxton says the problem is so much bigger
“You have no choice but to be tied into the city line and the city has the responsibility to keep those lines clean. They have no maintenance problem. They are negligent when they do it. In 2007 they came out and worked on the wrong line.”
Rutledges and Grishams are appealing the case. They are fighting for what the jury decided.
Buxton said this is not just their problem. He said much of Oklahoma City’s Northwest side has problems.
“You’re sitting on a ticking time bomb.”
When it explodes, Rutledge said it’s awful.
“It’s probably the most degrading thing we’ve ever gone through.”
Oklahoma City refused to comment on the case because it involves ongoing litigation.