After six years of litigation, Inland Products has won an $11.6 million jury verdict for a sewage backup that damaged the Columbus, OH, rendering plant and its equipment. The city decided not to appeal the judgment and settled on a $10 million immediate payment, according to Inland Products’ former owner, Gary Baas.
Inland Products filed the lawsuit in 2006, saying the city was negligent in operating a combined sanitary and stormwater sewer system that caused an “enormous quantity of untreated, sanitary wastewater” to back up into the plant’s buildings. The backup was triggered by flooding in January 2005 that also left a nearby sports park under four feet of untreated sewage and briefly closed an interstate highway.
During the trial, the city argued that the backup was triggered by a “very extraordinary weather event” and that city employees were not negligent in their response to the problem. The attorney for Inland Products refuted that the city was aware that some isolation gates in the sewer system weren’t working, which would have prevented the backup if they had been operational, regardless of the weather.
Inland Products’ attorney said Baas tried to keep operating the plant, but the business was so devastated by the damage that he sold it the following year. The plant was closed in 2010 and has since been torn down.
The city argued at trial that the company’s losses were $287,000. An expert witness for the company testified that the $11.6 million represented lost revenue and loss in value for the complex when it was sold.
April 2012 RENDER | back