City of Ralston Denies Liability In Sewer Backup Case

It's a homeowner's nightmare. The sewer starts flowing the wrong way. That's bad news for the home's basement. And on top of that, the owner says it's the city's fault.

Kim Benak says sewer water flowed into her basement last March, and she promptly filed a claim with the City of Ralston. But she says a letter from the city's insurance really stinks, claiming that it was not responsible for the backup.

"I think they should take care of us," Benak says. "I mean, it was because of them this happened."

Sewage-soaked drywall and carpet has been removed. The damage estimate is $13,000, and Benak's insurance covers $5,000. That leaves $8,000 needed for repairs.

The city attorney says Ralston Public Works put a camera down a manhole near the home at 78th and L and checked the sewer line, finding no blockage. So it says if roots clogged the sewer after the routine check, then the city hasn't been negligent.

"The city has sympathy for her, but the city isn't going to pay unless they're shown to be negligent," says Ralston City Attorney Mike Klinker.

"It wasn't on my property and there wasn't anything I could've done to prevent it," Benak says.

Benak says she can hardly afford $8,000 to make her basement livable, but she's determined to fight the denial and feels that hiring an attorney wouldn't be money down the drain.

Since the homeowner's insurance covered a portion of the damage, this case serves as a good reminder for all homeowners to check their policies to see if they contain sewer back-up coverage.