Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Small Claims this week...

St-Pierre v. City of Pohénégamook

First off, yes, it's an actual place, and no, I don't know how to say it either.
For some reason, I seem to be developing a fondness for litigation involving municipalities.

The plaintiff is asking for $6000 worth of damages.

The dispute: August 2008, lots of rain. Inadequate drainage duct contributed to the overflowing of water. The water crossed the road and caused damages to the plaintiff's property.

The water picked itself up, and went "F*** this, I'm crossing the road". Why did the water cross the road? Well, apparently, it seemed to have malicious intentions towards the plaintiff's basement.

The defendant contests, because they weren't expecting that shitload of water to fall on their heads on August 2nd and 3rd.

Proof shows that the City has installed a drainage duct, which had a right-angle bend. The diameter was insufficient. There was an overflow, which damaged the plaintiff's property.

According to the plaintiff, the City was at fault by installing and maintaining the ducts. Moreover, the diameter was inadequate, and the overflow stopped as soon as the duct was removed.

After the events, the City conducted some major work in that area, and rearranged the draining system.

The City argued that the amount of rain received on August 2nd was exceptional (89 mm, vs 33 and 25 for the day before and after). On Aug 2nd and 3rd, the storm drains on Rue Principale overflowed. These drains belong to the Ministry of Transports. The other streets (Pignon and St-Laurent) belong to the City.

Proof has shown that the City has had problems with the drains before, and has replaced some with wider-diameter ones on certain streets. The City knew that the ducts had to be replaced.

Water that caused the damage came from higher grounds, which belongs to the City.
The duct was the cause of the water overflow, which caused damage to the plaintiff's property.

Proof shows that the formation of blockages was highly predictable. The City knew that the diameter was not wide enough.

When a municipality executes work on streets or trenches, they must avoid modification of the natural water flow, or plan an effective drainage system for the water in order to avoid floods.

The defendant has not taken reasonable measures to avoid floods. The City has not acted with prudence and diligence.

The Defendant claims Force Majeure (ss 1470 CCQ), because of the truckload of rain they received. However courts have established that rain, even by the truckload, did not constitute force majeure.

So the lesson is: you should always provide for the deluge.

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