Man sues city over flood damage, claims negligence

2008-12-10T00:00:00Z Man sues city over flood damage, claims negligenceBy JOHN SKIPPER, john.skipper@globegazette.com Mason City Globe Gazette

MASON CITY — A Thornton man is suing Mason City officials, claiming their negligence caused him to lose $28,500 in personal property in the June 8 flood.

William N. Plymat also claims “malicious harm” on the part of the city may have contributed to his loss.

Named as defendants are the city of Mason City, City Administrator Brent Trout, Mayor Roger Bang, all six City Council members, Operations Manager Bill Stangler and Street Superintendent Bob Berggren.

Plymat claims his wife’s home at 510 11th St. N.E. was flooded on June 8 when the Winnebago River went over its banks. He said he lost vehicles and personal property worth $28,500.

“Nothing could have been done in the time available to save the house itself from severe damage, but the loss of my portable property could have been and would have been prevented were it not for the negligence and/or malice of city officials,” Plymat said in the lawsuit.

He said public officials failed to secure storm sewer pipes that run through the river levee at the end of 10th and 11th Streets Northeast.

Part of the problem was removal of sandbags from around the levee early in the year that were never replaced, according to the suit.

Plymat claims Councilman Max Weaver told him the city’s failure to replace the sandbags may have been in retaliation to an exchange Plymat had earlier in the year with City Administrator Brent Trout.

Trout said Wednesday it is city policy not to comment on pending litigation. Weaver could not be reached for comment.

Plymat claims in 2006, storm water pipes through the levee were surrounded by sandbags. But in early in 2007, city front-end loaders removed muddy snow and ice from the area and dumped it in a yard near his wife’s home. He noticed sandbags were being removed with the snow and ice. Also, according to Plymat, his wife’s yard was getting filled with debris.

Plymat said he e-mailed Trout and asked that the city stop using the yards as dumping grounds.

He said Trout replied, saying the city had an easement on the property allowing the dumping. Plyman e-mailed back, saying the city didn’t have an easement to damage private property.

Plymat said a city worker told him at the time the sandbags were removed that they would be replaced in the spring. But that never happened, he said.

On June 14, six days after the flood, Weaver came into the neighborhood to inspect the damage, said Plymat. “Weaver said he thought there may have been a connection between the absence of sandbags and my e-mail exchange with the city administrator,” according to the suit.

Plymat, who is representing himself, is seeking a jury trial.

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