600 Scranton Homeowners Say Newly Disclosed City Sewer Lines Under Their Properties Web of Potential ‘Ticking Time Bombs’

SMBB
December 29, 2016

600 Scranton Homeowners Say Newly Disclosed City Sewer Lines Under Their Properties Web of Potential 'Ticking Time Bombs'

Class Action Lawsuit Seeks Just Compensation for their Requested Easements

Scranton, PA (December 29, 2016) - Upwards of 600 Scranton and Dunmore homeowners - many of who have lived in their houses for several decades - were recently shocked to learn that they're living over volatile, active municipal sewer authority lines that could be 'ticking time bombs' if they fail.

Six of those homeowners, concerned about the impacts - from environmental to economic - on their families and communities just filed a lawsuit (Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas, - No. 16-cv -6261) contesting the Scranton Sewer Authority's (SSA) plan to pay each household $100 to obtain easements on the mysterious lines.

Attorney Patrick Howard, a Scranton native with the firm Saltz, Mongeluzzi, Barrett & Bendesky, P.C., represents the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. He said the homeowners were stunned to learn that the sewer lines ran beneath their properties, and insulted that the SSA believed it could obtain individual easements for $100.

"It is well known that the SSA is about to be sold to American Water Works, a private, multi-billion-dollar company (AWK: NYSE) for nearly $200 million, and that in the midst of the transaction, it stumbled upon the 'mysterious' network of sewer lines that never before showed up on the title searches of those 600 homes," stated Mr. Howard. "Did anyone for a moment think about the impacts on those residents, consider that if one of those sewer lines were to rupture it could cause catastrophic damage?"

In preparing for the sale's transfer of assets, the sewer authority undertook an inventory of its easements and discovered inexplicable gaps in easements for older sewer lines running under 600 private properties.

Robert and Ann Marie Hadley of Dunmore, among the initial plaintiffs, said, "Beyond any loss to the value of our property, we have serious concerns about the environmental and health impact that the existence of this line may have or has already had."

Anthony and Megan Moses, of Scranton, added, "Our house isn't just a legal residence, it's where we've chosen to raise our family as part of a community we love.  We should have known about these sewer lines prior to our purchase of the home, so we do not understand why some are blaming us for delaying the sewer authority sale. We're the victims, not those who are going to be enriched through that sale."

For its part, the Sewer Authority is trying to have these property owners' claims thrown out of court.  "The law requires that the Authority post a bond and escrow sufficient funds to compensate those impacted by these recently discovered lines," Mr. Howard said.  "To date, we have not seen any evidence that it has actually done so."

Contacts:

Patrick Howard / 215.96.8282 / 215-868-3289

phoward@smbb.com

Related Attorneys

Patrick Howard
Patrick Howard Partner

Office: 215-575-3895