Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Bloomingdale resident Brice McCracken challenges the basis for DC Water's denial of property damage claims

From Bloomingdale resident Brice McCracken to George Hawkins, DC Water General Manager: 




Mr Hawkins-
                                            
Thank you very much for taking the time to send an email this morning in following up on our concerns regarding the denial letters sent out by PMA on your behalf.  I am surprised that you, a Harvard University and Princeton Law School educated man would have forgotten what they taught you about negligence in law school.  As you so eloquently stated in your previous email, "To be liable, DC Water must actively and negligently commit an act that causes property damage to a claimant, or must have notice that property damage is likely to occur, have the obligation and ability to prevent it in time, and fail to do so. Neither was the case in the events of this past summer."  I have highlighted in bold the section which I wish to draw to your attention.  DC Water, DC WASA and its predecessor agencies have known for years that heavy rains cause flooding in the Bloomingdale and LeDroit Park neighborhoods.  There are study upon study which point to inferior sewer infrastructure in this area of the NE Boundary Trunk Sewer.  Furthermore, the major floods of the last dozen or so years, including floods in 2001, 2006, 2010 and 2012, all should have made it apparent to DC Water that property damage is likely to occur during flooding and sewer backup incidents.  DC Water as the District's water and sewer administrator has a obligation and duty to provide water and sewer systems that work to the customers that it serves.  DC Water, again, based on all of the data and studies has known about the flooding and backflow issue in the neighborhood for decades and chosen to ignore it.  Decades in my book, it more than enough time to make needed and necessary repairs.  The four most recent flood and sewer backflow events of this summer point to DC Water's failing to do what was required of it.  Any first year law student can see how negligent DC Water is in regards to this issue and it troubles me greatly that someone as educated and your team of attorneys can't or don't want to see it.  
                                                                                                                                   
Further, I have a second issue with regards to the letter that I received from PMA.  That letter, never address the basis of my claim for damages.  The letter only talks about overland flooding.  As you are well aware from my conversations with you, I suffered sewer backflows on three occasions, which cause the damage to my property.  From the letter, I understand that DC Water and PMA are not paying claims related to overland flooding, but what about those claims related to sewer backflows?  Since the sewer system is something you maintain and it backflowed into my condo unit, shouldn't you be responsible for cleaning up and repairing the damage?  If I am correct in looking at my water bill, don't I pay DC Water to safely and properly take away storm water and sewage from my property?  Should you not pay me when you fail to provide the service that I pay you for every month?  
                                   
The last point I would like to make, ties in with my argument about DC Water's negligence with regards to flooding and sewer backflows.  As a "new" customer to DC Water, should I not have been warned by you when I connected my service in May of 2010 that I was subject to sewer backflows from your inadequate and improperly modernized sewer system?  Again, DC Water has know about this issue for decades and failed to fix the problem.  Wouldn't it be the right thing to do to tell customers, since we are failing to keep up the aging and antiquated sewer system in your neighborhood, you are subject to sewer backflows and flooding during heavy rain events, as such we recommend that you install a backflow preventer to protect your property?  
               
I look forward to hearing back from you regarding DC Water's stance about my claim for damage resulting from a sewer backflow.  I also look forward to reading a copy of the report referenced in PMA's denial letter, which I requested from you in yesterday's email.  Please feel free to contact me directly for my mailing address if you do not already have it in your system.
            
Yours,
Brice McCracken

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