Can a municipality be held responsible for damage its crumbling infrastructure
causes its citizens? That's the question at the heart of the case
of Mirian Boncardo, whose Fishkill home was flooded with raw sewage due
to a pipe the town claims was "vandalized."
The Poughkeepsie Journal turned to Michael R. Varble, Esq. for legal insight on the matter.
Last week, the Boncardo family returned home to their Riverview Drive property
to discover that the basement had been flooded with sewage. Responding
to the flooding, town workers found that a shovel had blocked a pipe and
diverted sewage into the Boncardo home. Mirian, 50, and her family are
currently in the middle of a massive clean-up that, all said and done,
could cost tens of thousands of dollars—only a fraction of which
has been covered by her homeowner's insurance.
Can the Boncardo's sue to the Town of Fishkill for the remaining money?
According to Attorney Varble, probably not. A municipality's liability
in New York can be proven if the town received "prior, written notification
of a problem and fails to take action." Incident reports reveal that
Camo Pollution Control Inc., the town's sewage operator, responded
promptly to the Boncardo's initial flood report.
"Vandalized" Sewer Pipe
There is, however, the matter of the pipe blockage, which was determined
to be a shovel. The Town of Fishkill has determined that the placement
of the shovel was an act of vandalism. Attorney Varble detailed the alternative
for the paper: "If town employees were working there and caused the
condition to happen, you don’t need to have the prior written notice
[to file suit]," he told reporters.
In the meantime, the Boncardo's are largely displaced from their own
home, accepting help from neighbors, and waiting for a final cost of the
clean-up to be determined. As for Miriam Boncardo's position on Fishkill's
involvement, she told the paper that the town "walked out and left
me with a mess."
Are you facing a legal matter that needs swift and effective resolution? At
Michael R. Varble & Associates, P.C., Attorney Varble is an experienced and dedicated Hudson Valley lawyer
ready to help clients with their personal injury, family law, educational
law, and criminal defense goals. No matter what our clients’ needs
are, Michael R. Varble and our team have the knowledge, diligence and
resources to aggressively pursue a favorable outcome.
Want to learn more about how our firm can help? Contact us today to request a
free case evaluation.