Cleanup leads to lawsuit

Becky Vargo • Jul 21, 2015 at 1:45 PM

The result is an unpaid cleanup bill and a lawsuit against a Spring Lake homeowner and the city of Ferrysburg.

The lawsuit claims SERVPRO of Muskegon and Holland/West Ottawa County performed cleanup work at the home of Candace Cipolla in the 18000 block of Cherokee Street last fall.

SERVPRO completed work for five homeowners in that area in late September and early October 2013, according to their attorney, Brad Groom.

A Ferrysburg representative told the homeowner at 18088 Cherokee that the city’s insurance carrier would cover the damage to her home, Groom said.

But that claim was denied.

A letter to Cipolla, dated Nov. 11, 2013, said the insurance company did not find liability on behalf of the city.

“The cause of loss was a combination of heavy rainfall within a short period of time and a drain line that was not terminated,” the letter said.

“The City had no prior notice that the drain line was not terminated. Upon notice the city capped the line,” the letter read. “A municipality has no liability unless it knew, or should have known, of the existence of the defect and had a reasonable amount of time to repair the defect.”

City Manager Craig Bessinger said he understood some drywall had to be repaired and there were some mold issues.

He said this was the first storm water overflow problem he’s seen in a long time.

“Normally we see sewer overflow,” he said.

Bessinger said typically, bills are turned in and the city’s insurance pays the bill “if the city was at fault.”

SERVPRO claims Cipolla and the city owes the company almost $16,000.

Both parties signed the work order.

The claim was filed in Ottawa County Circuit Court because they have also asked for a construction lien on the property.

The lawsuit requests the judge find the lien valid and require the property be sold. Also that the proceeds be used to pay the amount owed, as well as interest, costs, attorney fees and charges.

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