October 23, 2020

Court: County Must Pay City $104K For Water Line Damage

Downtown Peru, Indiana. - Derek Jensen/public domain

Downtown Peru, Indiana.

Derek Jensen/public domain

PERU, Ind. (AP) — The state appeals court has ordered northern Indiana’s Miami County to pay the city of Peru $104,000 for a water line county workers damaged while clearing a logjam from the Wabash River.

The city and its insurer sued the county after the workers damaged a water line beneath the river in 2018 with an 800-pound, homemade device they deployed to break up the logjam, prompting a dayslong water boil order.

Peru and its insurer argued the workers were responsible for the damage and the county should be required to reimburse the city for repairs. The complaint said county employees knew city water lines were located beneath the river, but did not request a map or precise information about their location.

A judge ruled in the city's favor in March, ordering the county to pay $104,000 in damages. The county then appealed, arguing that it did not act negligently when the workers damaged the line.

But the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled on Oct. 16 that the workers did act negligently and that the county must repay the city for the repairs, the Kokomo Tribune reported.

The ruling noted that workers did not see or request a map of the location of the city's water lines before the log removal project began.

The court found that despite knowing there were water lines in the vicinity, a county employee intentionally lowered the device onto the riverbed, immediately breaking one water line.

“We have little difficulty finding that based on this evidence, the trial court did not err by concluding that the county breached its duty of reasonable care to the city,” the ruling states.

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