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Appeal possible in Milwaukee flood damage suit

A case involving 200 Milwaukee residents whose homes were damaged during floods in 2008 continues to inch closer to conclusion, though it’s still unclear when the end will come or if the case will be appealed.

The residents’ homes in the city’s Lincoln Creek and Lincoln Park neighborhoods were damaged because the city failed to inspect and maintain the sewage system, a jury concluded. According to court filings, residents “saw their basements fill up with as much as three feet of raw sewage, human excrement and every other type of waste flushed down a toilet or drain.”

According to a Dec. 17 order from Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Christopher Foley, the city will be on the hook for $548,240.70 of the $1.49 million that a jury awarded 200 residents during a trial in September. That’s because the jury found the city 36.77 percent responsible, meaning it only has to pay that percentage of the actual award.

But a final judgment, which will include legal, procedural and paperwork fees that the city will most likely be ordered to pay, has not yet been entered. The residents’ attorney, Barry White of Weiss Berzowski Brady LLP, said he is still calculating the costs involved with the case.

Assistant City Attorney Jan Smokowicz did not immediately return a phone call Friday.

White also said it’s too soon to say what issues, if any, could be brought up on appeal. A number of issues were brought up following the trial – including a possible problem with the jury’s verdict and the number of jurors who answered each question on the form – but Foley upheld the verdict following a hearing in November.

Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, Veolia Water Milwaukee LLC and its Delaware-based parent firm settled were also named as defendants, but they settled for $1.5 million prior to trial. The jury, however, found them to be partially at fault in its verdict.

About Eric Heisig

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