As a personal acquaintance of Steve Garside, I desperately hope he has been
misquoted in this article. It seems duplicitous to say that Risk Management was
"unable to determine the cause of the break" and then, in the same
breath, say it is known "that it was not from lack of maintenance." It
would seem that if you know it is not from a lack of maintenance, you must
indeed have some idea what the cause actually was. In any case, it is readily
apparent to the casual observer that the water main break was not the fault of
this good family whose only deficiency seems to be having the misfortune of
moving into a community whose officials prefer to dodge accountability.
This is the kind of case that cause people to wonder what happened to the sense
of responsibility of people in the government. Sadly, the liability of
government entities is often shielded from full punitive damages. This will be
an example of millions of dollars in legal fees and punitive damages that will
be in the 10s of thousands because the judge and/or jury won't be able to
exceed pre-approved amounts set by the legislature.
This family is right. If the city's water main breaks then the city should
be responsible for all damages. It doesn't matter why the main broke,
unless the city wants to argue that the family intentionally sabotaged the pipe
in an attempt to destroy their own home, which would be stupid. Do the right
thing Layton, or hope I do not end up on the jury. I would be voting for lots
of punitive damages just because of how the city has handled this mess.