Sewer Gas Nuisance Case Pared Down By Notice Requirement

Friday, March 30, 2018 3:58 am
April 2018 - Volume 46 Number 4

Sewer gases allegedly sickened a homeowner and chased him out of his home, but he waited too long to sue. As a result, his health-related claims were dismissed and his property-related claims were limited to just 180 days’ of damage even though the sewer gas invasion had been ongoing for a decade.

Facts: Raymond Kerr owns a house in the City of South Bend, Indiana, about two miles from an ethanol plant. Kerr’s house is attached to a main sewer line via a lateral sewer line. The City owns and maintains the main sewer line, and Kerr owns and maintains the lateral sewer line. In 2001, a member of Kerr’s household complained to the City about odors entering the home from the sewer. The City repaired the lateral sewer line, but the odors continued. By 2004, the City had received numerous complaints about the same order from other households in Kerr’s neighborhood. The Deputy Mayor assured Kerr that the City would either fix the problem or buy his home. In 2005, Kerr moved out of his house because of the odors.

The next year, the City discovered that waste from the ethanol plant was causing the odor. It’s not clear from the record whether the City took any steps to address the waste or odor.

Kerr visited his house in March 2012 to make some r[..]