A claim that was filed by Alderman Neil Borgman against the City of Muskego back in June of 2011 has been dismissed in Waukesha County Court.
in Waukesha County Circuit Court "to compel the City of Muskego to begin proper maintenance and repair of the existing Sanitary and stormwater sewer systems immediately," according to a release from the alderman in 2011.
"Since being elected Alderman for this District in 2004, I have repeatedly attempted to get the City of Muskego to honor its obligation to the homeowners in this area regarding drainage and storm water management issues," stated Borgman. "In July, 2010, as a result of the City’s repeated refusals to maintain the stormwater ponds, watercourse and a stormwater sewer main (built or upgraded by the City in stages since 2000), the stormwater sewer became totally blocked with debris."
Borgman maintained that the blockage caused surface flooding in the area of Briargate Lane and Parkland Drive of 18 inches and that the sanitary sewer also failed due to pressure from a storm water sewer main at Briargate and Lannon. In addition, "this blockage in the sanitary sewer main sent raw sewage into private residences for over 20 hours," according to Borgman's statement.
However, court commissioner Linda Saafir dismissed the case on Friday, saying they had not proven that lack of maintenance of the sanitary system caused the backups, and that they needed the testimony of an engineer as an expert witness.
One of the complainants, Suzi Link-Manson, told Muskego NOW that she felt they were not treated fairly.
"People who think small claims court is user-friendly will find it's not," Link-Manson said. "We really thought it was less formal, where the officer helped the process along."
Suzi, along with husband Keith had filed a second claim with Borgman, each seeking $5,000 for damages to their basements. Borgman and the Mansons are convinced that their sewer backups resulted from stormwater control ponds clogging up with debris after storms rolled through in 2010.
Joseph Wirth, who represented Muskego for Wisconsin Association of Municipalities Mutual Insurance said Borgman and Manson did not establish enough of a link between the overflow and the sanitary sewer backup.
Mayor Kathy Chiaverotti told Patch that Borgman and the Mansons "had the burden of proof that the City was negligent in the maintenance and operation of the sanitary sewer, and that such negligence, if it existed, caused the sewer back-up," which the court said was not proved.
If the city is going to funnel more water into the neighborhood, it should see that it doesn't go onto streets and into basements, Link-Manson told MuskegoNOW.
However, the Common Council has claimed that the ponds are private and it doesn't want to set a precedent of cleaning private storm water ponds because there are so many in the city.
Borgman and the Mansons will have until Monday to decide whether they will seek further action.