La Vergne fixes sewer line, but not home where sewer backed up

(Photo: WKRN)

LA VERGNE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The City of La Vergne said it will no longer help pay for the damage done to an 88-year-old woman’s home after sewage backed up and flooded her house.

News 2 first interviewed Gertrude Phillips on Jan. 8. Her home had flooded in November and the city had not assumed any responsibility.

(Photo: WKRN)
(Photo: WKRN)

On Feb. 2, the Board of the Mayor and Alderman voted to help Phillips. The motion was set by Alderman Tom Broeker.

“I would like to give authorization to settle this,” Alderman Broeker said at the meeting. “If you want me to put a figure on it, I would say up to the estimated amount.”

That amount was up to $30,000.

This week, the city’s attorney said the City didn’t have the authorization to pay for the damage Phillips’ home incurred.

According to John Dunn with the State Comptroller’s office, La Vergne’s attorney Evan Cope consulted with the Municipal Technical Advisory Service and the State Comptroller’s Office.

Each agreed with the city’s interpretation of the city code and state law: Phillips would have to prove the city was negligent or had prior knowledge of the defective condition if she wanted the city to be financially responsible. The City said it didn’t have prior knowledge nor was it negligent.

(Photo: WKRN)
(Photo: WKRN)

However, Phillips begged to differ.

That’s because this has happened before. Her home backed up with sewage in 2008. The city paid her that time even though it said it wasn’t deemed liable. Phillips said this time should be the same.

“Is God gonna have to shake the city up to make them realize what they’re doing?” Phillips asked. “They’re talking out of both sides of their mouths.”

News 2 wanted to find out why this time was different than the last, but the city administrator wrote in an email, “at this point, it is a legal issue.”

Phillips said she doesn’t want a lawsuit, she just wants her house fixed.

The city said it will discuss this issue at their next work session on Thursday, Feb. 25.

A group of La Vergne residents are currently working to raise money for Ms. Phillips. For more information, click here. 

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