Scottsdale City Council approves $50K to drain a sewage suit

Scottsdale City Hall is at 3939 N. Drinkwater Blvd. in downtown Scottsdale (File photo)

Scottsdale City Council approved $50,000 toward resolving pending litigation involving a sewage backup in a Paradise Valley couple’s home.

The resolution to move forward with the offer in the Maricopa County Superior Court case of Riester vs. city of Scottsdale, et al., was approved on consent at the regular May 21 meeting, according to a city staff report, naming Tim and Mirja Riester, as property owners in Paradise Valley, as plaintiffs.

The case also names the Town of Paradise Valley for bearing some responsibility since Scottsdale and the co-named municipality have an intergovernmental agreement providing certain sewer maintenance and collection services to the Town of Paradise Valley, which is represented by its own separate council.

Nearly two years ago, in July of 2017, there was a backup in the main sewer as a result of a collapsed rain guard from a manhole cover, the report said, describing the sewage backed up in the “lateral collection system for the Riester property and up their drains, causing flooding in three rooms” inside the house.

The Riesters, who initially filed a lawsuit against the City of Scottsdale and the Town of Paradise Valley, claimed more than $1 million dollars in damages, but according to the staff report, Scottsdale denied liability and called the plaintiffs request an “unrealistic picture of what their true legal damages are.”

Since recent mediation was unsuccessful, the city has resorted to use Rule 68 of Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure that allows a party to have a judgment entered for a certain sum.

And, the report said if “the offeree does not accept the offer and then fails to obtain a more favorable judgment, then the offeree has to pay the successful parties’ settlement positions.”

Also, if the offer is not accepted and it becomes possible later to settle the case, the report noted on terms “no less favorable to the city than the offer of judgment,” then the city can proceed with the settlement.

Meanwhile, like many citizen suits against the city, the proposed $50,000 payment may be included in the city’s primary property tax rate for the next year as the City of Scottsdale “has a long-standing practice of including paid tort settlements equal to or greater than $20,000 in the city’s primary tax rate to reimburse the Self-Insured Fund for payment of the claim,” according to the report.

Independent Newsmedia News Services Specialist Delarita Ford can be reached by e-mail at dford@newszap.com.

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