Grandview homeowner who believes sewage spill is city’s fault takes fight to city hall

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GRANDVIEW, Mo. -- A Grandview home owner has been in a fight with city hall since April. That’s when raw sewage flooded into the basement of his home.

Kent Cable said he knew the sewage had to be coming from the main sewer line because he hadn’t even turned on the water to the house, which he had purchased less than a week earlier.

When he saw the sewage spilling out of his basement toilet, sink and shower drain, he immediately called Grandview’s Public Works Department for help.

“They said they would send a crew out,” Cable said. “ They claimed that they did. We never saw them.”

Meanwhile, the sewage kept flowing. When he drove back to check on the house at 6 p.m., there was so much sewage it was flowing under the garage door.

He called the city again.

“They said they would send somebody out,” Cable said. “There's no record of anybody coming out that evening to look at it.”

By the next morning, April 25, there was almost four inches of raw sewage in his basement. He called the city again. This time Cable saw a city crew working on the main sewer line near his home.

He even talked to them.

“They said there was a clog in the line and they had just cleared the clog,” Cable said.
It must have worked because the sewage stopped flowing into his home.

But what was left behind was a mess. It took a professional cleanup company two days to scrub his basement and replace drywall and doors. The total cost was nearly $14,000. Cable believes the city of Grandview should pay most of that tab.

“If they had addressed it when we first called them the damage would be minimal, clean up would be minimal,” Cable said.

Grandview’s own insurance company acknowledged in an email that there was a clog in the main line. But the insurance company still decided not to pay Cable for his damages. Why? Because the first two times Cable called the city for help (on April 24), city workers responded and determined the main sewer line was clear, according to Grandview Public Works Director Dennis Randolph.

“We didn't see back ups in our manholes any of the times,” said Randolph, who said if there had been a clog, water wouldn’t have been flowing through the manholes.

There’s just one problem: Cable never saw anyone from the city come out to inspect on April 24. Grandview provided Cable with a work order dated April 24, which states that a city worker paid a visit to the area and determined there was no clog in the public line. The work order even states that the employee talked to the homeowner. Cable said that definitely isn’t true.

So Cable kept digging for information, he was given a log of city sewer line inspections from April 7 to April 25. Each inspection is listed in chronological order -- except for one inspection that took place on April 24 – that mysterious visit to Cable’s home. That inspection was added to the last line of the log. It was written in after April 25.

Randolph told FOX 4 that the log was not intended to be chronological and that city workers are not clerks who always keep timely records. He said it wasn’t unusual to have inspection recorded after the date of the inspection – although that was the only one Problem Solvers found like that on the log sheet.

“The point is if we were negligent and our negligence caused the sewer to back up,” Randolph said. “That's not the case.”

But attorney Scott Shachtman, who is now representing Cable, said that is exactly the case.

“If there was a clog that the city didn't identify than they could be considered negligent,” said Shachtman, who was surprised Grandview had been so unwilling to work with Cable that he was forced to hire an attorney.

Meanwhile, Cable is left with a home that suddenly became a lot more expensive to remodel and a bad taste about Grandview city officials.