A Chicago couple recently received a $325,000 settlement from the City Council after sewage water flooded their basement and destroyed their vintage vinyl collection in July 2012.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Joseph and Debbie Bruce’s basement flooded during a city water main break, the result of city negligence. Joseph Bruce, an avid music lover and record store owner, lost more than 30,000 items from his collection of music-related items, including rare vintage vinyl records, posters, CDs, tapes and more during the flooding.
When asked why the Bruces received so much money to recover from the damage of their basement water leaks, Corporation Counsel Stephen Patton called Bruce’s record collection “unbelievable,” appraising it at a value of more than $500,000.
“Although we do not take care of these issues, we do see them often,” says Austin Werner, Owner, The Real Seal, LLC. “There is a prevention system that you can have installed, called a back-flow prevention system. The system will act as a one-way flow valve so that sewer water can only leave your house and nothing can back-flow back into it. This system will prevent your basement from flooding due to sewer backup and can save you on costly repairs and loss of valuable items.”
News of the Bruces’ costly settlement — one of many claims filed against the city for negligence that stemmed from the summer 2012 floods — angered many fellow claimants and taxpayers, as it’s just the latest in a string of settlements that is costing taxpayers millions.
Just last year, City Council agreed to a $5.75 million settlement to compensate a cyclist who had been paralyzed from the waist down by a 40-foot dead parkway tree limb that fell on him. That same tree had been inspected by the city 10 months before the incident, MyFoxChicago.com reports.
A month after that settlement, the City Council paid out $5 million in compensation to a man who lost his leg after a car slid on a patch of ice and hit him. The ice had come from a water main break. This settlement was followed by a $1.5 million settlement with a 23-year-old man who sustained a traumatic brain injury after riding his bike into a barricade that marked a collapsed sewer basin. The Bruces’ settlement is evidently the tip of the troubling iceberg.
As Chicago’s taxpayers grow increasingly weary of funding multi-million-dollar settlements that resulted from city negligence, it will be crucial for City Council members to take a look at their payout process for negligence claims filed against the city.